CS1: Shock


After watching the news coverage of a massive earthquake in an area where you once conducted a research project, you decide to incorporate in your 3rd-year Engineering course a lecture on the “Role of the Global Engineer in Society”. In the lecture you connect the topic to the immediate context of the humanitarian crisis in the earthquake zone, and draw heavily on social justice theory.  You assume the students will engage quickly with the well-timed topic, so you plan to schedule 30 minutes at the end of class for heated discussion; instead, they sit passively after your lecture and do not immediately engage in the group discussion.

After an awkward silence one student comments: “Instead of talking about the morals and ethics of engineering in society, I think that we should be using class time to focus on the technical problems involved here. The other ‘stuff’ we’ll figure out later, once we get going in our careers.”  The majority of the class nods in agreement.

Later that week, you decide to draft a proposal to your department to lead an ISL component in this same course next year and to take the students to the community that has been affected by the earthquake. You find that your goal is supported by both the university’s mission/vision statement and international engineering standards set for Global Engineering competencies.  You say to one of your colleagues:  “This will be the best way to shock my students into understanding that being a professional engineer isn’t just about technical skill.”


    • What are the ethical motivations for wanting to engage in ISL?
    • When is a “one-time” project like this appropriate?
    • Is international engagement preferable to classroom based analysis in this scenario?
    • How might the professor justify their motivations for this project to the students? The department head? The community in the affected area?
    • Is there a secondary research agenda attached to this initiative?
    • How can we name the critical moments that shift the identity of the educator’s teaching approach and teaching philosophy?
    • What expertise can this group of students bring to the relief projects in the affected area?
    • What inspires the professor to transform their overall approach to the course?
    • What steps does a professor take to ground the international service component of their course development in ethical process?
    • At this stage of the process, whose input is missing in the development of this course?
    • What implications might “shocking” students into understanding have for how students might engage with the community partner if they’re disinterested in skills outside of technical?
    • Who has the professor connected with to be the community partner on this project? Is the community partnership equal to or secondary to the professor’s academic planning?
  • Training and Education

Pedagogical Framework: Transformative Education

Project Phase: Preparation