Cumming-Potvin, W., Baille, C. and Bowden, J.A. (2012) Engineering education for social and environmental justice: Scaffolding multidisciplinary knowledge through multiliteracies. In: Canada International Conference on Education (CICE-2012), 18 - 21 June 2012, University of Guelph, Ontario, Canada.
This paper reports findings of a project funded by the Australian Learning and Teaching Council and titled Engineering Education for Social and Environmental Justice (EESEJ). In a context of rapid globalisation, the EESEJ project aims to increase tertiary student learning for social and environmental justice through a new critical approach to engineering education, encouraging student engineers to situate their technical expertise and respond ethically in social, economic and environmental contexts, both locally and globally (see Baillie & Catalano, 2009). A multidisciplinary research team in Australia, the UK and USA engaged in a range of activities, such as designing and implementing critical problem solving in undergraduate engineering courses and undertaking collaborative writing tasks in small research teams. The EESEJ project is based on several assumptions: that social and environmental justice are interwoven and the holistic curriculum approach recommended by Engineers Australia is valid, with students undertaking community projects in ways that responsibly consider social, economic, cultural, environmental and ethical factors. The work of socially just engineers is integrated with community consultation and governed by anti-oppressive principles (Young, 2000), so as to avoid exploitation, marginalization, cultural imperialism, powerlessness and violence in communities. The aim of this paper is to describe the experience of a group of participants in the EESEJ project, the methods they used and the outcomes they achieved.