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This paper narrates the experience of a Canadian university in reorienting its mining curriculum towards the goal of producing engineers who are sensitive to context. The authors acknowledge industry’s historical association with environmental degradation and imperialism, but counter that mining is necessary to provide the materials of civil infrastructure, particularly that required to reduce green-house gas emissions. They also point to the potential for mining projects to rejuvenate communities, by providing the revenues that support self-determination, suggesting that more equitable distribution of impacts and benefits may be achieved through engineering design that is better informed and sensitive to community perspectives.
To promote such an approach to engineering design, the Robert M. Buchan Department of Mining at Queen’s University has instituted a program of curriculum re-positioning that is informed by theories of situated and transformative learning. This paper traces the first steps in the development and execution of curriculum that supports the development of student awareness of context and culture and a new contextually-sensitive approach to professional practice.
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