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Practicing Care in Global Engineering with Underserved Communities

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2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Seattle, Washington

Publication Date

June 14, 2015

Start Date

June 14, 2015

End Date

June 17, 2015





Conference Session

Engineering Ethics Division Technical Session 4

Tagged Division

Engineering Ethics

Tagged Topic


Page Count


Page Numbers

26.1235.1 - 26.1235.10



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Paper Authors


Bhavna Hariharan Stanford University

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Bhavna Hariharan is a Social Science Research Associate at the Kozmetsky Global Collaboratory in the School of Humanities and Sciences at Stanford University. Her field of inquiry is Engineering Education Research (EER) with a focus on engineering design for and with underserved communities around the world. For the last nine years, she has worked on designing, implementing and managing environments for interdisciplinary, geographically distributed, collaborative research projects among scholars, and with underserved communities. She is also a lecturer in the Mechanical Engineering department where she currently teaches a course Global Engineers’ Education.

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Practicing care ethics in global engineering with underserved communitiesThis paper describes the inclusion of ethics as the central part of an undergraduateengineering course that brings together engineering students with underservedcommunities globally. It begins with a brief description of the course, its aims, and theunique approach it pioneers of students working with the community rather than for them.The remainder of the paper is divided into two parts as described below.The first part of the paper describes the challenges of ensuring participation of thestudents and the community as equal partners and how this was achieved by includingcare ethics (Noddings, Held, Gilligan, Tronto, Groves) as a central piece of the course. Inaddition to reading and discussing literature on care ethics, the students used theseconcepts to create individual “care statements” which guided the design process. Theclass project focused on improving sanitation and hygiene problems in rural India wasundertaken in groups of three. As a first step, the teams arrived at a problem and solutionspace that was inclusive of the care statements of all the team members. This was donewithout any attempt to prioritize cares or arrive at a collective care statement.The second part of the paper describes a preliminary attempt at understanding studentengineers’ experiences of engaging with ethics as well as their evolving understanding ofethics in engineering practice. Using qualitative approaches (unstructured interviews andshort surveys), students who opted to stay engaged with the research topics of the classwere included in the study. The data was analyzed to arrive at a set of curricular needsand requirements to better incorporate ethics in engineering curricula.

Hariharan, B. (2015, June), Practicing Care in Global Engineering with Underserved Communities Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.24572

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