Athens, Ga. – Integrated global challenges of the 21st century are punishing disciplinary boundaries like never before. The notion of engineering as a societal activity harkens to the original intent of the liberal arts education model: to transform students into capable citizens. This transformation is the focus of University of Georgia researchers who received a three-year grant to establish a pedagogical model for re-connecting the humanities and social sciences with engineering.
The $114,000 United States Department of Agriculture Higher Education Challenge grant is focused on improving the competency of engineering educators within the backdrop of a growing trend in higher education: service learning. The project will engage faculty from the humanities and social sciences in order to help adapt engineering courses and curricula toward the needs of today’s engineering students.
“The concept for the Faculty of Engineering was developed in part to re-establish the crucial links between engineering and the humanities,” said Dale Threadgill, director of the UGA Faculty of Engineering. “Designing curricula integrating science and engineering with the liberal arts gives UGA students the contextual, critical thinking skills necessary for strong leadership in today’s world.”
“Today’s students must be able to appreciate their major field of study in the context of the larger world,” said project director Tim Foutz, who will guide the project with co-director Sidney Thompson. “We as educators need to integrate a wide range of humanistic disciplines and expertise within our engineering courses to prepare our students for the career opportunities of the 21st century.”
Foutz and Thompson are engineering faculty from the UGA Faculty of Engineering and the department of biological and agricultural engineering. Co-director Maria Navarro represents the department of agricultural leadership, communications and education in the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.
The UGA Faculty of Engineering was established in 2001 to advance comprehensive engineering at the University of Georgia. With more than 100 members from twenty-four departments in nine schools and colleges across campus, the Faculty of Engineering provides an entrepreneurial setting for engineering academic programs in the unique environment of UGA. For more information, see http://www.engineering.uga.edu/ .