College Head Wants To ‘Revise’ Engineering Curricula To ‘De-Center Western Civilization’

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Rob Shimshock Education Reporter
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The new head of Purdue University’s engineering education school wants to revise the curricula to emphasize “de-centering Western civilization,” according to a Wednesday report.

Donna Riley, head of Purdue’s School of Engineering Education, focuses on incorporating social justice initiatives like gender, and “social responsibility” into engineering, reported The James G. Martin Center for Academic Renewal.

“[Riley] focuses on applying liberative pedagogies in engineering education, leveraging best practices from women’s studies and ethnic studies to engage students in creating a democratic classroom that encourages all voices,” according to her Smith College faculty page.

“I seek to revise engineering curricula to be relevant to a fuller range of student experiences and career destinations, integrating concerns related to public policy, professional ethics and social responsibility; de-centering Western civilization; and uncovering contributions of women and other underrepresented groups,” says Riley on the faculty page.

The page also outlines two courses taught by Riley in Smith College’s engineering department. Riley taught students the relationship between technology, gender, capitalism, and colonialism in EGR 330: Engineering and Global Development. In EGR 205: Science, Technology, and Ethics, she made them examine “racist and colonialist projects in science.”

Purdue did not mention Riley’s social justice initiatives in its press release announcing her appointment as engineering education head.

“[Riley] brings to the position a strong record of excellence and innovation, a strong commitment to the field of engineering education as a discipline, and great passion and energy,” said Leah Jamieson, Purdue’s engineering dean. “I know that Engineering Education will thrive under her leadership and that Purdue will continue to play a leadership role in the field [of] engineering education.”

The new engineering education head received over $400,000 from the National Science Foundation in 2005 to research “liberative pedagogies” in engineering education, producing publications focusing on “feminist visions” in engineering education and gender stereotypes and gaps in engineering. She previously served as interim head of Virginia Tech’s engineering education department.

The Daily Caller News Foundation reached out to Riley and Purdue for comment, but received none in time for publication.

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