After decades of research and educational innovation, engineering continues to struggle to achieve diversity, equity, and inclusion by most measures. Why is this change so slow, despite numerous investments from governments, industries, and non-governmental organizations? Applying tools from humanities and social science disciplines, we can identify and examine the root causes of inequality in engineering disciplines, and reframe the project of diversity in order to make greater progress. Re-imagining diversity in a social justice frame generates numerous avenues of inquiry and critique, creates space for multiple intersecting identities and experiences, and moves us from gritty survival amid structural inequality, to envisioning new structures for a broad, resilient engineering community in which all can thrive, and from which all can benefit. Examples drawn from ongoing research projects on liberatory maker spaces and on community organizing strategies for change in engineering education will illustrate a root cause approach to a more inclusive and socially just engineering.
Donna Riley is Kamyar Haghighi Head of the School of Engineering Education and Professor of Engineering Education at Purdue University. Dr. Riley joined Purdue in 2017 from Virginia Tech, where she was Professor and Interim Head in the Department of Engineering Education. From 2013-2015 she served as Program Director for Engineering Education at the National Science Foundation (NSF). Riley spent thirteen years as a founding faculty member of the Picker Engineering Program at Smith College, the first engineering program at a U.S. women’s college. In 2005 she received a NSF CAREER award on implementing and assessing pedagogies of liberation in engineering classrooms. Riley is the author of two books, Engineering and Social Justice and Engineering Thermodynamics and 21st Century Energy Problems, both published by Morgan and Claypool. She is the recipient of the 2016 Alfred N. Goldsmith Award from the IEEE Professional Communications Society, the 2012 Sterling Olmsted Award from ASEE, the 2010 Educator of the Year award from the National Organization of Gay and Lesbian Scientists and Technical Professionals (NOGLSTP), and the 2006 Benjamin Dasher Award from Frontiers in Education. Riley earned a B.S.E. in chemical engineering from Princeton University and a Ph.D. from Carnegie Mellon University in Engineering and Public Policy. She is a fellow of the American Society for Engineering Education.
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