Our "Gender/Race/Class in engineering education" class has an "open topic" period that I've volunteered to help design... which means I'm going to Ask The Internet for help. (Hi!)

Based on our class discussion just now, we are interested in tackling this question: How do we interrupt the discourse that perpetuates inequity in engineering education? (Subquestions: who has access to this discourse as a listener? A speaker? What is that access based on -- gender, race, class... age? geography? language? disability? intersections of any subset of that? What strategies do we have for doing this dialogue-interrupting work in professional and personal contexts?)

The course will be Monday, November 18, which is 2 weeks from now. We're mostly PhD students in engineering education (technical backgrounds, social science research interests, lots of future engineering professors who care deeply about teaching). We have 3 hours in class, plus the ability to ask people to read a reasonable amount (<100 pages, English) before class. I'd love to hear thoughts, especially half-baked ones, on:

  • "learning objective" suggestions -- in other words, what do we want to learn during the course of the 3 hours? (Can be fact-based, skill-based, emotion-based, perspective-expanding-based...)
  • "assessment" suggestions -- given those learning objectives, how will we tell (at the end of the 3 hours) whether we've learned them, and how well? Does not need to be a test; could be questions for reflection on our own, etc.
  • Reading suggestions -- scholarly or not. (For instance, Alice Pawley has offered to let us read her CAREER proposal on feminist engineering -- a short, highly competitive grant for junior scholars whose committee was probably not used to getting "feminist" proposals.)
  • Activity suggestions -- discussions, games to play, short bits of theatre to act out and/or improvise upon, provocative question prompts, etc...

Potential inspiration: our guiding question/framing about "interrupting discourse" came from a discussion on "how do we talk to people about this?" and an interest in intersectionality, especially with disability/access. I'm personally curious about the history of opening these dialogues in STEM: who (tenured? white? male? western?) started the conversations about women in physics, minority races in computing, wheelchair-accessible chemistry labs, etc -- and when, and how, and what were the responses?

Comment away! I will post readings (or reading notes, if readings are not freely available), discussion questions/guidelines, and a story of what happened in the class once we run it -- basically, whatever I can do to make the experience we're creating here available and reusable by more people.