Engineering and Social Justice: How to help students cross the threshold

Jens Kabo, Richard J. F. Day, Caroline Baillie


This paper reports on the interdisciplinary course “Engineering and Social Justice: Critical theories of technological practices” developed and first taught at Queen’s University by Richard Day (Sociology) and Caroline Baillie (Engineering) in 2006 in order to bring engineering and social science students together to help them develop critical thinking in relation to engineering practices while questioning common assumptions. This process was focused through a social justice lens that the students were encouraged to adopt. However, this was not easy to do for many of them and can be likened to the crossing of a threshold. In this paper, we explore the conceptual framing of the course as well as some of the crucial parameters of its apparent success in guiding students across the threshold.

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