Faculties of science and technology are under pressure to prepare graduates who can work effectively for diverse communities, locally and globally, based on the principles of sustainable development. These expectations have been made clear in Australian higher education statements, by professional bodies and in the Queensland University of Technology’s (QUT) Teaching and Learning Plan. In practice this means academics working with students in person or on-line, to challenge their thinking and to encourage them to change. It also involves a paradigm shift for many students and academics. Principles of social and environmental responsibility and cross-cultural communication skills must move from being seen as optional "add-ons" to being fundamental aspects of education for all engineers and scientists. They must be part of formal content and assessment in order for students to take them seriously.

This paper is based on the second year of collaborative work in the subject, Technology and Society, to meet these challenges with first year Engineering students at QUT. The vast majority of these students are males, many of whom have entered university with set attitudes and expectations of the degree. They also come from increasingly diverse cultural and study backgrounds and we were concerned that their studies were not responding to this. So as Harari (1997) urges, we are working towards "an atmosphere where students break out of their mental and national ghettos", using a combination of group activities, written material, professional role models, ethical dilemmas and reciprocal feedback to value and build on students’ responses.

It takes planning, courage and perseverance on the part of lecturers to change and to convince students that these changes will benefit them personally and professionally. Many teaching staff also need professional development in order to do this confidently and effectively as part of an integrated approach. We are approaching it as a collaborative professional research partnership (Grundy 1998) of the kind which current work and budget pressures within universities are making more difficult to establish and maintain. The paper therefore offers an opportunity to consider and assess the portability of this case study of curriculum change.

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Public Communication of Science and Technology

 

Globally responsible graduates
Turning rhetoric into reality

Patricia Kelly   Queensland University of Technology

Deborah Messer   Queensland University of Technology

Faculties of science and technology are under pressure to prepare graduates who can work effectively for diverse communities, locally and globally, based on the principles of sustainable development. These expectations have been made clear in Australian higher education statements, by professional bodies and in the Queensland University of Technology’s (QUT) Teaching and Learning Plan. In practice this means academics working with students in person or on-line, to challenge their thinking and to encourage them to change. It also involves a paradigm shift for many students and academics. Principles of social and environmental responsibility and cross-cultural communication skills must move from being seen as optional "add-ons" to being fundamental aspects of education for all engineers and scientists. They must be part of formal content and assessment in order for students to take them seriously.

This paper is based on the second year of collaborative work in the subject, Technology and Society, to meet these challenges with first year Engineering students at QUT. The vast majority of these students are males, many of whom have entered university with set attitudes and expectations of the degree. They also come from increasingly diverse cultural and study backgrounds and we were concerned that their studies were not responding to this. So as Harari (1997) urges, we are working towards "an atmosphere where students break out of their mental and national ghettos", using a combination of group activities, written material, professional role models, ethical dilemmas and reciprocal feedback to value and build on students’ responses.

It takes planning, courage and perseverance on the part of lecturers to change and to convince students that these changes will benefit them personally and professionally. Many teaching staff also need professional development in order to do this confidently and effectively as part of an integrated approach. We are approaching it as a collaborative professional research partnership (Grundy 1998) of the kind which current work and budget pressures within universities are making more difficult to establish and maintain. The paper therefore offers an opportunity to consider and assess the portability of this case study of curriculum change.

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