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Engineering and Society

Working Towards Social Justice, Part III: Windows on Society

Engineering and Society by George Catalano
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Engineers work in an increasingly complex entanglement of ideas, people, cultures, technology, systems and environments. Today, decisions made by engineers often have serious implications for not only their clients but for society as a whole and the natural world. Such decisions may potentially influence cultures, ways of living, as well as alter ecosystems which are in delicate balance. In order to make appropriate decisions and to co-create ideas and innovations within and among the complex networks of communities which currently exist and are shaped by our decisions, we need to regain our place as professionals, to realise the significance of our work and to take responsibility in a much deeper sense. Engineers must develop the 'ability to respond' to emerging needs of all people, across all cultures. To do this requires insights and knowledge which are at present largely within the domain of the social and political sciences but which need to be shared with our students in ways which are meaningful and relevant to engineering. This book attempts to do just that. In Part 1 Baillie introduces ideas associated with the ways in which engineers relate to the communities in which they work. Drawing on scholarship from science and technology studies, globalisation and development studies, as well as work in science communication and dialogue, this introductory text sets the scene for an engineering community which engages with the public. In Part 2 Catalano frames the thinking processes necessary to create ethical and just decisions in engineering, to understand the implications of our current decision making processes and think about ways in which we might adapt these to become more socially just in the future. In Part 3 Baillie and Catalano have provided case studies of everyday issues such as water, garbage and alarm clocks, to help us consider how we might see through the lenses of our new knowledge from Parts 1 and 2 and apply this to our everyday existence as engineers.
Morgan & Claypool Publishers; January 2009
124 pages; ISBN 9781598296662
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Title: Engineering and Society
Author: George Catalano; Caroline Baillie