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Peace Engineering: A Partnered Approach to Engineering Education

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Middle Atlantic ASEE Section Spring 2021 Conference



Publication Date

April 9, 2021

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April 9, 2021

End Date

April 10, 2021

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Mira S Olson Drexel University

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Dr. Mira Olson is an Associate Professor in the Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering Department at Drexel University. She holds a B.S in Mechanical Engineering and B.A. in Environmental Sciences and Engineering from Rice University, and an M.E. and Ph.D. in Civil (Environmental) Engineering from the University of Virginia. The broad focus of her research is on protecting source water quality, with current interests in transboundary water management, coastal sustainability and community-based research design. Dr. Olson is an editor of the International Journal of Engineering, Social Justice and Peace and serves as faculty fellow in Drexel’s Office of University and Community Partnerships. She is a co-founder and director of the newly established Peace Engineering program at Drexel, which aims to infuse conflict-sensitivity and peacebuilding into engineering education, research and practice.

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Joseph Hughes

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Dr. Hughes, University Distinguished Professor of Engineering, is a member of the Peace Engineering Faculty at Drexel University.

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Imagine what it would be like if all engineers, or all engineering work, supported environmental protection, social justice, human rights and peace. Of course some of it does. But some of it enforces norms and inequities that work against these ideals. So how do we pivot? How do we elevate these values within engineering education and the workplace, and what are new modes of engagement, research, development and design that will help us get there? Peace engineering is a new discipline that merges engineering with social and applied sciences, and with peacebuilding for the dual purposes of integrating technical analysis and engineering into peacebuilding practice and also infusing conflict-sensitivity and peacebuilding skills into engineering design and practice. It builds on a partnered approach to curriculum development, research, community engagement and design. The Peace Engineering program at Drexel prepares engineers to work as better partners in complex situations like conflict zones, fragile nations or post-disaster, and to incorporate conflict sensitivity into their work. Our goal is to prepare students both to promote diversity and incorporate traditional knowledge into existing engineering work, and also to engage in challenges and realms that may not necessarily fall within traditional engineering work. In this paper we present our approach to building engineering curricula, engaging in community-partnered research, and reframing the engineering design process. We address challenges in creating intersectionality across disciplines and present examples of our coursework, partnered research projects and engaged outreach.

Olson, M. S., & Hughes, J. (2021, April), Peace Engineering: A Partnered Approach to Engineering Education Paper presented at Middle Atlantic ASEE Section Spring 2021 Conference, Virtual . 10.18260/1-2--36311

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