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The Minor in Engineering for Sustainable Development
Engineers will be increasingly called upon to help devise solutions to the tremendous problems of poverty, inequality, and social and environmental dislocation that afflict major parts of theglobe in the 21st century. Working as an engineer in this context involves negotiating highly complex social, economic and political realities and dealing with a wide range of institutions and actors, including national and local governments, multilateral lenders such as the World Bank, diverse non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and local communities. It also increasingly involves working in interdisciplinary teams with social scientists, public health and medical workers, humanitarian aid workers, bankers, politicians and the like. “Sustainable” development implies a development path that is socially equitable, culturally sensitive, and environmentally appropriate over a multi-generational time frame.
The Minor in Engineering for Sustainable Development exposes engineering students to some of the key issues related to development, methods of information-gathering in diverse and difficult settings, and working effectively with non-engineers on complex problems. We begin with a one-semester core course that surveys the various issues involved, followed by an individually designed but coherent program organized around a particular theme, disciplinary approach or region of the world. We conclude with a one-semester seminar in which students come together and share their experiences and insights from their various program trajectories.
The Program: Structure and Content
Students pursuing the minor are required to take seven courses. The core course is 570.110 Introduction to Engineering for Sustainable Development. Five additional courses will be selected in a program devised in consultation with the Minor advisor. Students are also required to take 570.4xx Seminar in Engineering for Sustainable Development: Theory, Practice, Experience after completing the other requirements for the minor (under development).
Of the five additional courses:
- Three must be grouped around a specific theme, region or within a specific discipline. Themes might include, for example, public health, environment, or economic development. Regions include Africa, Latin America or Asia. Disciplinary concentrations might be in Anthropology, Economics, Geography, History, Political Science, Public Health or Sociology.
- Three of the courses must be at the 300-level or above.
- One of the courses must cover methods for gathering and evaluating information in a development context. Examples include:
- 070.319 The Logic of Anthropological Inquiry
- 070.219 Anthropology and Public Action
- 070.347 Discourse Analysis: Stories and their Structures
- 280.345 Biostatistics in Public Health
- 280.350 Introduction to Epidemiology
- 230.202 Research Methods for the Social Science
All courses must be completed with a grade of C- or better to qualify for the minor. At least two semesters of foreign language study are strongly recommended but not required. Students who participate in a Study Abroad program for a semester can, with the minor advisor’s consent, use this experience to count in place of one of the required courses.
The value of this program will be enhanced by some form of hands-on experiential project, whether at a field site in a developing country, in support of field-workers in other divisions of the university or in distressed communities in Baltimore. This experience is not required for the minor. It might take one of the following forms:
- Field work in collaboration with Engineers Without Borders. Presently the Hopkins EWB chapter has projects established in South Africa, Ecuador and Guatemala. The South Africa project, for example, involves working with groups of mostly elderly women who are caring for some hundreds of their grandchildren who have been orphaned by HIV/AIDS. They have started community gardens in order to feed these children and also to earn money to support them through produce sales. The projects involve assembly, installation, testing and maintenance training for a very low-tech but effective pumping system for irrigation.
- Providing technical support to “clients” at Hopkins (for example, at the School of Public Health) who are engaged in field projects in developing countries. This might involve, for example, developing dedicated software for data management, devising robust and easy-to-use test kits for environmental toxins or medical conditions, or facilitating interactive analysis and project planning between researchers in Baltimore and the field personnel.
- Participating in programs being developed by the JHU Center for Social Concern, with its growing service learning component. This would allow students to work on projects in Baltimore which offers an ample field for identifying and responding to social and environmental problems.
The minor is open to undergraduates in any of the engineering disciplines in the Whiting School of Engineering. Students in Arts & Sciences may also pursue the minor with the permission of the program director.
For further information, contact: Dr. Erica Schoenberger, Program Director, 501 Ames Hall, firstname.lastname@example.org, 410-516-6158.