Asee peer logo

Work in Progress: An Exploratory Study of the Sustainability Mindset Through a Citizen Science Project in a Vulnerable Latinx Community

Download Paper |


2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access


Virtual On line

Publication Date

June 22, 2020

Start Date

June 22, 2020

End Date

June 26, 2021

Conference Session

A Focus on Sustainability

Tagged Division

Environmental Engineering

Tagged Topic


Page Count




Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors


Azadeh Bolhari P.E. Angelo State University Orcid 16x16

visit author page

Dr. Bolhari is currently an Assistant Professor of Environmental Engineering at Angelo State University. Dr. Bolhari holds her PhD from Colorado State in Environmental Engineering. Her research interests include: sustainability mindset, resilient communities, citizen science, engineering identity, and retention of minorities in engineering.

visit author page


Daniel Ivan Castaneda James Madison University Orcid 16x16

visit author page

Daniel I. Castaneda is an Assistant Professor at the Department of Engineering at James Madison University.

Daniel earned his PhD in 2016 and his Master's in 2010, both in civil engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He previously earned his Bachelor's in 2008 from the University of California, Berkeley. After graduating from Berkeley, Daniel worked as a Systems Analyst at ATAC Corporation – a Federal Aviation Administration subcontractor specializing in analytical software solutions – before enrolling at Illinois.

Daniel has research interests in alternative cements and concrete, fast-setting repair materials, freeze-thaw durability of concrete, instrumentation of infrastructure, residual stress modeling, rheology, and quantitative image analysis. He has taught a variety of courses including civil engineering materials, dynamics, engineering design, engineering economics, matrix analysis, mechanics, probability and risk in engineering, statics, and structural analysis.

visit author page


Kenneth Stewart Angelo State University

visit author page

Dr. Kenneth L. Stewart is retired professor of sociology at Angelo State University where he served on the faculty from 1975 through 2018. He was also among the founding faculty members of the Master of Public Health Degree at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center.

Dr. Stewart’s scholarly work has a distinctively interdisciplinary flavor overlapping the fields of sociology, history, political science, public health, and engineering. He is author or co-author of three scholarly books and two edited volumes. Sixteen of his scholarly articles have been published in refereed journals or as book chapters. He has delivered professional presentations in venues including the Cancer Prevention Research Institute of Texas, the Crossroads Conference on Rural Health, Texas State Historical Association, American Sociological Association, and the Oxford Round Table at England’s Oxford University.

As director of Community Development Initiatives at ASU, Dr. Stewart implemented numerous community research, program evaluation, and community organizing projects. He continues to be an advocate for the vulnerable members of communities in West Texas.

visit author page

Download Paper |


An initial exploratory study examined basic parameters of the sustainability mindset in an historically underrepresented group within engineering. An NSF water quality engineering research project engaged citizen scientists from vulnerable Latinx families in design, construction, and use of acrylic concrete structures for rainwater harvesting. During the start, middle, and end of the project, participants were asked to share their perceptions of sustainability through a series of exploratory focus groups questions: “How do you feel about droughts in the region; can you please tell me what you know about drought-resiliency; do you know ways a person might be able to conserve water during a drought; can you please tell me what you know about water quality testing?” Three coders (an environmental engineer, a civil engineer, and a sociologist) conducted a domain analysis of the focus group to determine emergent themes reflecting the sustainability mindset of the citizen scientists. Preliminary results show that between the onset and conclusion of the rainwater harvesting project, participants increasingly articulated their thoughts on sustainability in a future-oriented context requiring collective action in a broader, community sense. The preliminary findings have implications for sustainability-focused engineering outreach and crowdsourcing efforts.

Bolhari, A., & Castaneda, D. I., & Stewart, K. (2020, June), Work in Progress: An Exploratory Study of the Sustainability Mindset Through a Citizen Science Project in a Vulnerable Latinx Community Paper presented at 2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual On line . 10.18260/1-2--35609

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2020 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015