Crystal City, Virginia
April 29, 2018
April 29, 2018
May 2, 2018
Diversity and Undergraduate Education
Co-curricular diversity support programs and structures have an important role in supporting underrepresented students in undergraduate engineering and STEM departments. These programs typically aim to provide a safe space and resources for a primary shared marginalized identity group, for instance, Women in Engineering programs, Minority in Engineering programs, LGBT focused programs (Out in STEM, NOGLSTP). While these programs have an important role in undergraduate engineering and have proven results for retention and academic success, they often take a similar model. Fundamental research to establish theory on the most important elements of diversity support, and to expand on existing models with new approaches, is less often pursued.
This paper leverages theory and practice from outside of engineering education in order to note contrasts and imagine new possibilities for diversity support structures. First, from critical legal studies and critical race theory, the theory of intersectionality raises awareness of the multiple overlapping marginal identities, and the particular ways that oppressive social structures affect the individuals. Recent trends in intersectionality have also considered overlapping privileged/dominant and marginal identities. Intersectionality suggests a new attention to the multiple identities of a student group, rather than focusing on a single shared identity.
Second, the theories of liberatory pedagogy and critical theorizing suggest that a marginalized individual engaging critically with oppressive culture is a key act of agency, and may be more empowering than other forms of help or support. As a key enactment, Intergroup dialogue is a diversity approach popular outside of STEM, but rarely explored within engineering education. Intergroup dialogue emphasizes establishing a community of trust and dialogue across difference, rather than requiring similarity for the conversation.
This paper will use the three theoretical constructs to suggest key challenges within diversity support. It will conclude with possible directions for diversity support which both draw on existing structures and suggest new forms.
Secules, S., & Sochacka, N. W., & Walther, J. (2018, April), New Directions from Theory: Implications for Diversity Support from the Theories of Intersectionality and Liberatory Pedagogy Paper presented at 2018 CoNECD - The Collaborative Network for Engineering and Computing Diversity Conference, Crystal City, Virginia. https://peer.asee.org/29556
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