Reconstruct: Western and Noongar ways of knowing and practicing engineering
- Friday, October 27, 2017 from 3:00pm to 4:00pm
- Roberts Hall, 101 - view map
This morning I believed in hope once again. It was a gift I will treasure for myself. Thank you. The Community was thrilled and proud. I only wish I could show them (the students) how wonderful they all were…they spoke with depth and genuine care about the project (the future of our world is in good hands) (NIWA volunteer)
A Critical Theory of Technological Development is broadening elective offered to all undergraduate students at UWA. Engineering and Science students who take the unit are introduced to social and political critique of Western ways of knowing and practicing engineering. Arts and Social science students are introduced to the potential that engineering can offer in addressing Global challenges including those that it may have contributed to in the past. Together they enable the critique of the past and present with the creation of sustainable and just alternatives for the future.
The traditional land owners of the Perth region and the land on which UWA is placed are the Noongar community. In 2015 we were approached by The Noongar Institute of WA (NIWA) for assistance in developing its teaching and learning resources for DIDARA WALGINER BURA MOGANG GUDJIR BALJARR the NIWA Centre for Excellence in Science and Technology. NIWA is an inclusive centre for community advancement promoting Noongar excellence, leadership and innovation of the Noongar Nation. Following years of neglect from the traditional school system NIWA has been established by the community for the community - a new school for Noongar students, which will enable them to learn in culturally appropriate ways. We accepted the challenge and proposed to develop a community service learning project with NIWA for the students of the critical theory unit. In its pilot phase we expected to touch the surface of what might be possible. We hoped that ultimately engineering students would learn to question Western ways of knowing, develop an understanding of Noongar culture, and co- develop, with input from the community, some potentially useful learning materials for use by the NIWA community. The astonishing, transformatory experience of the engineering students in this pilot study far exceeded our expectations. The response from the community was also profound.
To enhance the student experience even more for 2016 and 2017, funding was received by the team to create a Bush Engineering training program for the community project student mentors. Six engineering students attended a six week Bush school in John Forrest National Park near Perth, working together with students, teachers and board members of NIWA, to share knowledge on country. This talk will share the experiences of the extraordinary journey that UWA students and NIWA took together. We will also discuss how this story might inspire programs with similar aims here at MSU.
Caroline Baillie is Professor of Praxis in Engineering and social justice at the University of San Diego. Her role is to support the development of engineering education which facilitates graduate engineers to develop increasingly social and environmentally just approaches to their practice. She brings 25 years of experience in teaching engineering across multiple engineering disciplines and countries, as well as research and development in engineering and education. Previously she was Chair of Engineering Education for the Faculty of Engineering, Computing and Mathematics at University of Western Australia, Chair of Engineering Education at Queens University, Canada, educational developer and materials lecturer at Imperial College, UK and the University of Sydney as well as holding a three year position founding and running the Materials Engineering Subject Centre in the UK. Baillie’s research considers socio-technical processes and systems, which enhance social justice, and educational systems that promote these. Baillie brings lessons learnt from these studies and practices into the curriculum and the classroom to facilitate the transformation of future generations of engineers. Professor Baillie has published 27 scholarly books, an edited series of books on ‘Engineers, Technology and Society’ and over 200 book chapters, peer reviewed journal and conference papers.