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Title: Using a social justice approach to decolonize an engineering curriculum
Authors: Winberg, Simon 
Winberg, Chis 
Keywords: Engineering curricula;Decolonized curriculum;Engineering education;Computer engineering
Issue Date: 2017
Publisher: IEEE
Conference: 2017 IEEE Global Engineering Education Conference (EDUCON) 
Abstract: Globally there have been many changes in the roles of universities, in particular the increasing complexity of the university’s relationship with the state and society; it is thus unsurprising that there is a growing pressure on engineering programs to become more inclusive, innovative and ‘relevant’ to social needs. This study arises out of a call in South Africa, for the ‘decolonization’ of higher education. There is considerable debate and controversy about what a decolonized curriculum might comprise, and this paper sought to identify elements of a decolonized computer engineering curriculum through interviews with academic and practicing engineers, as well as a student survey. The findings suggest that there are different ways in which a curriculum might be understood as being decolonized (or progressing towards such a state). In this paper we argue that decolonizing a curriculum requires a systematic approach, such as understanding of curriculum development as an activity system in order to identify the elements that require change. We further argue that an appropriate framework, such as Nancy Fraser’s tripartite understanding of ‘social justice’ would ensure that the decolonized curriculum is also a socially just one. We use ‘fictive scripting’ to forecast a variety of possible scenarios for a socially just decolonized computer engineering curriculum, based on the data obtained from participants. We then presented these scenarios to faculty to gain their views towards further development. Results of our case study indicate that a socially just decolonized engineering curriculum may need more resources and staffing to achieve its purpose, compared to a more traditional curriculum. The case study suggests further that a decolonized curriculum has benefits, such as improving student motivation, enhancing relevance to the local context and helping to inspire innovative solutions for local needs.
Description: 2017 IEEE Global Engineering Education Conference (EDUCON)
ISBN: 978-1-5090-5467-1
Appears in Collections:Eng - Conference Papers

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