July 26, 2021
July 26, 2021
July 19, 2022
Equity and Culture & Social Justice in Education
The aim of this project is to engage students with course material related to environmental justice principles using anti-racist pedagogy. In a senior-level Unit Operations and Process Simulation course for chemical engineers, students are asked to take a holistic approach to chemical plant design. However, previous iterations of this course did not ask students to consider the implications of building them: Who is making the decision to build these plants, and why are they doing so? Where are these chemical plants being built? Are they safe for the workers and the surrounding neighborhoods? Who gets to design these plants, and who will be maintaining these plants? If there's a difference between those groups, why?
To this end, we incorporated a one-week course module on environmental justice as it pertains to chemical engineering. In an effort to emulate anti-racist, feminist modes of instruction, we called upon a few of the students to form a “cogen” (co-generative dialogue) to assist us in developing and delivering the course materials for this week of class. Over the course of the semester, four students self-selected to be a part of this cogen, meeting with the instructor once per week to co-develop learning objectives, instructional strategies, forms of assessment, and course materials for this module. In doing so, we centered the narratives of the students who have been directly impacted by climate injustice and environmental racism, as well as students who have been involved in climate activism in their non-academic lives, in the delivery of the course materials. Collaboratively, the 4-student, 1-instructor cogen team co-developed course content relating to the role of chemical engineers in advancing environmental injustice and its local, national, and global impacts on public health, economic security, racist violence, mental health, and more.
By starting an in-class dialogue about the responsibilities of the members of our discipline, we hope to engage students in broader issues such as diversity, equity, and inclusion of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) individuals within STEM fields as well as the disparities in access to housing, healthcare, and education among marginalized communities across this country.
LaChance, A. M., & Pascal, J., & Gan, D., & Welsh, J. J. P., & Pauly, T. J., & Paul, P. (2021, July), Teaching Environmental Justice Principles to Chemical Engineering Seniors: An Antiracist, Collaborative Approach Paper presented at 2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual Conference. https://peer.asee.org/37809
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