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Drexel University, MacAlister Hall, Sky View Room, 6th Floor, 3250 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia, PA


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When the Horses Whisper: Pedagogical Implications of Interspecies Communication

Monday, April 21, 2014

3:00 PM-5:00 PM

Rosalyn W. Berne, PhD, University of Virginia, Department of Science, Technology and Society


The culture of undergraduate engineering education tends to place its highest value on instruction of the practical and applied. Engineering ethics courses taught in engineering schools have therefore had to reconcile the practical with more philosophical modes of thinking. In regards to place of biological systems and living species on Earth, engineering education tends to approach these as discreet elements within linear systems potentially to be controlled and manipulated for human purposes. Teaching students how to discern what practicing engineers ought to do in ethical terms is built primarily upon a homocentric perspective of a rightful “dominion over the earth.” The anthropogenic perspective attributes to human’s significant and dangerous alterations made to the earth and its biosphere, and to living species, as a direct result of such dominion.
To stay relevant and current at a time when the frontiers of knowledge and ethics are being stretched, as never before, engineering ethics will likely need to include more integrative and complex considerations, based on new knowledge about the interconnections between living species and other natural systems. Rosalyn Berne, PhD, asks whether current and emerging knowledge about the communicative capacities of living species might have important its implications for engineering ethics.
Berne will introduce her book "When the Horses Whisper" (Rainbow Ridge Books, 2013), recounting some of the stories it contains, and also venture an explanation as to how the experiences of “that other world” are informing her work in engineering education.
To learn more about Dr. Berne, please visit her website.
*This event is sponsored by Drexel's College of Computing and Informatics and the Center for Science, Technology and Society.

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Nirva LaFortune