Practice Papers

Document Type

Conference Paper


Fostering a sustainable future requires a balance between human necessities, societal institutions, and environmental systems; and this delicate equilibrium is best attained through strategic and innovative design. With this, and the growing diversity of our communities, it is imperative to equip engineering students with inclusive perspectives that allow them to critically assess the socio-technical elements of sustainable design. Recent research within engineering education has elevated the importance of empathy as a design practice and inclusivity as a design principle; exploring topics of bias and exclusion are essential to this work. As part of a first-year design course, we introduced these topics in a five-part instructional series, called Leading through Inclusive Design. This series first focused on identifying exclusions in our designed world and exploring the intentionality of design. Second, students reflected on their identities and considered how biases might influence design work. Next, in the context of a re-design project, students evaluated the exclusivity of an object and implemented learned strategies toward an inclusive re-design. Finally, by applying inclusive design principles and leadership mindsets, students were asked to develop an ‘ecology’ of solutions for a Grand Challenge’ as defined by the National Academy of Engineering. Solving these multiplex problems around themes of sustainability, health, security, and joy of living required cultural, ethical and economic awareness beyond traditional engineering proficiencies. We describe the implementation of this series and summarize the unique outcomes of our approach for a class of predominant white, male engineering students with diverse majors and passions.


Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-Share Alike 4.0 International License.