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Democracy in Engineering Education

Do we need ethics or sustainability in engineering? How to decide on this question? SEFI Spring School 2024 is jointly organized by the two SEFI Special Interest Groups on Ethics and Sustainability.

Date: 10 – 12 April 2024
Location: TU Berlin, Germany

Call for Participation
Expression of interest
due by 12 January 2024

We expect to give you a tentative reply by 19 January 2024.

Inspiration for the title of the spring school – Children’s Book: Crocodile or Octopus?

The children’s book “Kroko oder Krake? Du musst dich entscheiden!” (“Crocodile or Octopus? You have to decide!”) by Jörg Mühle sets the tone for the spring school. The picture book gives a choice on each page, for instance whether you want to live in a huge mansion or a small house, whether you want to be raised by a serpent or an eagle, whether you want to get lost in the woods or in a crowd and of course if you would rather have a crocodile under your bed or an octopus in your bathtub. In engineering and higher education we are confronted with this every day. However while growing up we tend to reduce arising questions to all or nothing dilemmas that have only one valid answer. With this spring school we want to reflect on who gets to ask the questions and how to answer them as well as who gets to represent the choices and how to choose. And yes, we also want to regain a bit of playfulness in order to find creative solutions for what lies ahead.

Questions and choices that are linked to the spring school

This SEFI Spring School on ethics and sustainability addresses the role of democracy in engineering education:

  • How to decide on what and how to teach in engineering education?
  • Who gets to teach and learn engineering?
  • What is the societal role of universities (of technology)?
  • Should universities educate towards democracy? If yes, how is it done? If no, who else should take care of that?
  • Should (higher) education be democratic? If yes, what does that entail with regard to critical debate, protest and resistance on campus?
  • Are there core values in a democracy and how do they relate towards the values of engineering, ethics and sustainability? How to teach, learn and practice these values as (prospective) engineers?
  • What is the difference between an engineer as a professional and as a citizen with regard to democracy?
  • What can engineers do to contribute to a democratic and sustainable society? How can they be decision-makers and change agents?
  • Who should be integrated in decision-making processes on technology and when is it acceptable to leave someone out? – What purpose should technology serve?
  • Is a democracy better suited to implement sustainable development or should we leave sustainability to a benevolent dictator?
  • How can we uphold an equal right to freedom for all humans? – Is there a chance for peace without democracy and sustainability?

Who should attend? – Heroes, villains and normal people

The SEFI Spring School is a community building event for everyone who is active in engineering education in relation towards democracy, sustainability, ethics and peace. It does not follow traditional formats of academic workshops/conferences but calls for participants who do things a bit or even a lot different and who want to reach out to others beyond any human-made border. Therefore, the spring school is as much about the people who participate as about what and how they do it. Students and staff, academics and professionals, artists and engineers, SEFI members and non-members, rogues and bureaucrats… are equally called to express their interest in presenting their work.

Click the button for more information on the Spring School and to express your intent to attend!

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