Educators play an important role in the higher education systems, they are the ones who form professionals to go contribute to the world, but also they raise the new and future mass of professors. In other words, professors have an important role in how the world is shaped through the actions/contributors of those they have “educated”. However, in the current, and for multiple reasons, the relationship between higher education and the ideal role of professors is affecting the relationship between professor-student, which ultimately affects the citizens we sent to the world. I am going to focus on the relationships with PhD students in the engineering fields of higher education. Nowadays, is it worth to ask the question why is the ratio of international vs National students increasing? Are PhD students the one with more opportunities in the market?
First, to put graduate students in context, PhD students are not regular students, they are professionals that have chosen to continue study for many more years in stead of being part of the work-force, probably in higher positions and good salaries. However, are they being treated this way? Studies show that PhD students suffer from this and this. In that context, I believe schools need to do this, control for fairness, provide development resources, etc. But the most immediate and direct connection between students and the university is the perforadora and advisors. So I advocate for them to incorporate in the recurrent teaching practices new views. For example, use empathy
In this post I want to discuss the book by Richard E. Nisbett, The Geography of Thought. This book discusses differences of thinking between asians and westerners. Higher Education can use this to incorporate cultural differences among many parties. Nisbett states that people hold the beliefs they do because of the way they think and they think the way they do because of the nature of the societies they live in. The nature of these societies, including their core values, have changed very little; because values are the slowest and most difficult to change. Thus, values endure for centuries, as Nisbett emphasized in the presentation of the dichotomies between Eastern interdependence (of people and objects) versus Western independence. Furthermore, his conclusions state that the United States is a highly individualistic culture whereas Hong Kong and South Korea are largely collectivistic, emphasizing that relationships are very independent in the West and interdependent in the East. These characteristics are very relevant to consider when thinking f higher education, because higher education should represent and it should be shaped by the core values of a society.
I developed a mock case study to be applied to students here at VT. The Case Study stated traffic chaos, longer travels times, longer waiting times, time wasted due to poor coordination between transit modes are typical characteristics in this area of infrastructure. But relatively slow increase infrastructure services compare to the constant grow of the demand are not only related to transit system but to all infrastructure systems such as energy flow networks, housing development, water management and transportation, sanitations, among others. For these reason, it is important that the engineers and designers in charge to address these challenges have approaches that think o the end user, to make the whole system more sustainable.
It is evident the need in our schools to include learning activities to improve the design process. Teaching Empathy as part of the design process will educate engineers, planners and designers to not only consider the traditional traits but to go further trying to understand real human needs, finding low cost solutions that address those challenges that can make an experience much more efficient. The possibilities to teach Empathy should not be limited to only charrette (Walker & Seymour, 2008) and design thinking methodologies, but to expand to many other innovative, interdisciplinary, and sustainable approaches that enhance more complex thinking. More sustainable solutions do not necessarily mean exclusively deep technical thinking, but rather thinking about those who will use the system; by thinking out of the box, using other fields experiences and bringing them back to the specific problem.
I think examples like this one can be useful in all fields that are taught at VT. Allowing students to role play with their majors and use their current settings (where they live, problems they face, etc) to combine their learning with real life problem, which ultimately they are going to face once they graduate.
In recent years there have been many efforts to comprehensively teach sustainability and its applications to engineering and engineering design. Furthermore, the concept of sustainability in technical majors has often been presented as an environmental problem, when it actually cuts across many systems such as cultural systems, different value systems, economic and technological frontiers, and others. Sustainability crosses multiple dimensions and has various levels of learning—undergraduate, graduate, and professional. To normalize the discussion about teaching sustainability, the UK Joint Board of Moderators built Guidelines for Sustainability that stated four absolute principles for sustainability education in engineering programs. According to the report, these four principles are the borders within which sustainable engineering occurs. Principles two and three—developing and understanding minimum socio-economic standards for humanity, and considering intergenerational equity—include empathy as a core value, which shows a strong correlation between empathic designers and sustainable designs.
Empathy is an important construct when designing civil infrastructure systems. A study among civil engineering programs at universities from Sweden, Spain, and the Netherlands showed that students and faculty identified empathy as one of the desired skills for designers to deliver sustainable designs. Although this study is clear that the results are not final for all programs, it presents a strong convergence between the skills and the delivery of sustainable designs. The tendency to adopt empathy as a purposeful construct to teach engineers continues to grow. Outcomes such as understanding others, awareness of broader impacts, open-mindedness, building relationships, improving teamwork, effective communication and interaction, design value, and context impacts are attributed to empathy as part of the design process. Pedagogy practices are broadening from traditional teaching methods to more student participation and experiential learning modules.
Nowadays, according to the National Academy of Engineering, civil engineers are asked to empathize more and more in their daily professional activities, in both technical and social tasks. Every day engineers have to engage with multiple stakeholders, design for future users, develop plans for sustainable projects, review the work of colleagues, report technical and administrative tasks to their superiors, and inform the general population, among other tasks. To tackle these challenges, civil engineers should broaden their technical expertise to social competencies such as empathy, communicational skills, and interdisciplinary teamwork. Also, while in recent years there has been a new boost of research articles and book publications about empathy, there is still little research about the connection between engineering and empathy education. The need to address this connection is highlighted by a number of studies. For example, the National Research Council addresses the need for higher education programs to move towards more holistic education that includes students working more directly on issues of contextual design, multiple stakeholder engagement, and interdisciplinary communications.
I think the future of the university is uncertainty for many reasons. Technological reasons: the development of new technology will affect the way universities work, increasing the use of internet, more interactive classes, but also, more online or distance-mode lectures. Political reasons: As we see, politics plays a crucial role in how higher education works. Higher education needs resources for one, to develop research and support knowledge development; and second, to develop the new professionals who will manage and drive the world.
Current universities curriculums are based on the need of manufacturing labor after the industrial revolutions. This industrial revolution made economy base their foundations on repetitive labor that required some set of skills. With the development of technology, a lot of those jobs can be substituted by other devises, robots, etc. What is the role higher education will play? how will it adapt?
It is unstoppable the use of new technologies or games. I taught using some truss-Bridges games, and they worked very well. they provide a more realistic understanding of the behavior of trusses once loaded and in use. I tried a little experiment, and I asked a lot of my uncles and similar aged people to try it. It surprising to see that for them, people who use their phone regularly and somehow have some education, these games were not very intuitive to be played (as opposed to the students in my classroom). If this happens with well-educated adults, we can imagine how the impacts scales when it comes to the more vulnerable of our societies.
I am afraid of the new technology development of teaching. For the Pedagogy class, we watched a video: Digital Media- New Learners of the 21st Century, which suggest, by 2020 people who do not know how to use media will be consider as illiterate. They show 5 stories in which they successfully use digital devices and technology gadgets to engage students into learning. Students understand the reasons for learning the lessons provided. A hands-on, short-term applicable lesson. I am going a little bit off from the main subject, because these readings got me thinking about how the development of technology, if not correctly applied in the classroom, are contributing to a less just world. I think this fact should be highlighted in the teaching designs because we should teach, and learn, that technology is a language that about half of the population do not even have access; and it is our duty, to develop and use these technologies to facilitate access for it.
As I share in my weekly reflections journal, I went to the Open Access presentation at the Library. It was very interesting, I thought I knew about it but I realized that I knew very little. I have heard that current publishers are taking advantage of the system unfairly, and I understood the reasons. I did not think about the process of government giving grants for researchers to develop new knowledge. And then this knowledge, since it goes to private publishers, has to be re-bought by the government from these publishers. This seems like a very silly (for not say a corrupted system). Also, those practices of not allowing universities to talk to each other about the charges they get to access these journals. This is just a way to manipulate universities. Couldn’t the government sign a bill to regulate this? If not, shouldn’t the government promote that all public money that goes for research should be published in places accessible for everyone? At least for everyone in that country. Maybe universities do not have the “need” or they lack of the determination to gather together and form a strong group to advocate for this knowledge to be of easier access. Maybe we should look to Germany higher education institutions and the fight they are having with Elsevier in order to make them reduce their fees. It is a strong and most of the time unfair fight, but if we don’t get together to advocate for our rights, this fight will never be won.
I talked to my professor about this, and he seemed not interested at all to increase his participation in this. I mean, he knew about open access, and he told me about it, but he was also interested more in the other more “traditional” journals than starting switching to new ones. I think that this will take some time, but we should make it a priority as future professors.
Educators play an important role in the higher education systems, they are the ones who form professionals to go contribute to the world, but also, they raise the new and future mass of professors. In other words, professors have an important role in how the world is shaped through the actions/contributors of those they have “ETHICS”. However, in the current, and for multiple reasons, the relationship between higher education and the ideal role of professors is affecting the relationship between professor-student, which ultimately affects the citizens we sent to the world. I am going to focus on the relationships with PhD students in the engineering fields of higher education. Nowadays, is it worth to ask the question why is the ratio of international vs National students increasing? Are PhD students the one with more opportunities in the market To put graduate students in context, PhD students are not regular students, they are professionals that have chosen to continue study for many more years instead of being part of the work-force, probably in higher positions and good salaries. However, are they being treated this way? Studies show that PhD students suffer from this and this. In that context, I believe schools need to do this, control for fairness, provide development resources, etc. But the most immediate and direct connection between students and the university are the professors and advisors. So, I advocate for them Toni corporate in the recurrent teaching practices new views. For example, use empathy.
VT Mission Statement
“Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech) is a public land-grant university serving the Commonwealth of Virginia, the nation, and the world community. The discovery and dissemination of new knowledge are central to its mission. Through its focus on teaching and learning, research and discovery, and outreach and engagement, the university creates, conveys, and applies knowledge to expand personal growth and opportunity, advance social and community development, foster economic competitiveness, and improve the quality of life”
Messiah College Mission Statement
“Our mission is to educate men and women toward maturity of intellect, character and Christian faith in preparation for lives of service, leadership and reconciliation in church and society.”
The search for this week got me surprised so very much by the so many differences in mission statement of the different types of universities. After reflecting on the universities and discussing about them in class showed me that there are many different types of mission statements. While the main goals and values are very similar between most universities, the way to get there is different. I think their ways depend a lot on the type of universities such as research universities, community colleges, private colleges, etc. One common concern that I found among blog posts was how the mission statements need to have a renewal date; I found multiple that were updated decades ago. I would also like to add that their vision should be align with the mission and how to get there. Another interesting fact about mission statements is how they can be inclusive, and diverse. Especially for land grant universities this is the main factor that should stand out in their mission statements. After talking to friends from other places, public universities have similar missions as these kinds of schools.