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CSS colloquium: Geetanjali Date, Homi Bhabha Centre for Science Education (HBCSE), Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, India

Solving for pattern: understanding the socio-technical connection as plastic, through case studies of technology design

2017.05.30 | Randi Mosegaard

Date Tue 13 Jun
Time 10:00 12:00
Location Room 1531-219

“A good solution is good because it is in harmony with ...larger patterns... “ said Wendell Berry. Designs that seek to promote sustainability and equity, leading to wider harmony with the environment and communities, are not the focus of current engineering design practice and education. This is mostly because the core values driving engineering design are: 1) economies of mass scale, and 2) optimization of performance efficiency. The extreme focus on these two values leads to designs that undermine sustainability and equity. These values also significantly limit the engineering design space, and make invisible the wide variety of ways in which technology could connect to society and the environment. Using cases from grassroots design, I will illustrate 'plasticity' in the way technology, society and the environment could be connected. I will then argue that case studies of technology design at the grassroots offer interesting insights into how engineering education could scaffold this kind of plasticity, which is a requirement to develop engineering designs that promote sustainability.

Geetanjali Date is an advanced doctoral student from India. Her thesis work is about socially-engaged engineering education with a focus on design of sustainable technologies for development. Her effort is to understand / characterize the design process and thinking of 'grassroots designers' (formal and mostly non-formal practitioners who design engineering solutions to address the needs of the 'base of the pyramid' of the society). This is connected to the broader research area at the interface of Engineering design education, Cognition, and Engineering / S&T Studies. Geetanjali belongs to the Learning Sciences Research Group at Homi Bhabha Centre for Science Education, TIFR, led by Dr. Sanjay Chandrasekharan, who is also her thesis advisor.


Lecture / talk