RPI Hosts Conference on Social Justice in Engineering and Development, August 14-16


RPI Hosts Conference on Social Justice in Engineering and Development, August 14-16

Pat's Barn, Rensselaer Tech Park, and West Hall, RPI Main Campus

August 14, 2013 9:00 AM - August 16, 2013

The Engineering, Social Justice, and Peace network will hold its ninth annual conference, with a theme of “Engineering and Development,” August 14-16 at Pat’s Barn in the Rensselaer Technology Park. The conference, sponsored by the School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences and the Department of Science and Technology Studies at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, will focus on the social justice challenges faced by engineers working on international development projects.

“Engineers conceive, design, and develop technologies that transform our world, so it’s important for us to understand how those technologies serve some groups better than others,” said Dean Nieusma, an associate professor in the Rensselaer Department of Science and Technology Studies, editor of the International Journal for Engineering, Social Justice, and Peace, and the conference organizer. “Especially for engineers interested in international development work, it’s important to understand how to engage with the social dimensions of development – the culture, politics, economics, and, most importantly, the local communities who are intended to benefit from new technologies.”

Nieusma said the conference explores the intersections of technology, society and culture, and politics and economics, with the goal of identifying the structures and practices that lead to injustices. The conference is also a resource for guidance in engineering development work promoting social justice.

The conference program includes presentations by international experts in the field, a series of workshops and panel discussions, and a shadow theater performance. Registrants include scholars, practitioners, engineering education administrators, and Engineers Without Borders groups from around the world, as well as representatives of relevant research funding agencies.

A highlight of this year’s conference is the shadow theater performance— “My Revolutionary Dream Toilet!”—a journey through the heart of “toilet madness” in African slums, highlighting the degradation and humility surrounding sanitation challenges in impoverished urban environments. This performance will be held in the West Hall auditorium, on Wednesday, August 14, at 5 p.m., and is free and open to the public. The 20-minute performance will be followed by discussion with the creator/performers.

The Engineering, Social Justice, and Peace (ESJP) network is a diverse community comprised of engineers, social scientists, designers, artists, humanists, community builders, and others, working as scholars, students, practitioners, and activists. For additional information on the work of the ESJP network, see the group’s website at http://esjp.org.

For further information on the conference, including the complete program, and to register, visit the conference website at http://esjp.org/esjp-conference/esjp-2013 or contact Nieusma at nieusma@rpi.edu.



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