June 19, 2015
Colloquium Speaker: Donna Riley
Donna Riley is Professor of Engineering Education at Virginia Tech. Prior to joining Virginia Tech in 2014, Riley spent thirteen years as a founding faculty member of the Picker Engineering Program at Smith College, the first engineering program at a U.S. women’s college, and one of very few engineering programs in a liberal arts context. Since March 2013 she has been Program Director for Engineering Education at the National Science Foundation. Riley’s research interests include engineering and social justice; engineering ethics; social inequality in engineering education; the liberal education of engineers; and engineering studies. Riley is the author of two books, Engineering and Social Justice and Engineering Thermodynamics and 21st Century Energy Problems, both published by Morgan and Claypool. Riley earned a B.S.E. in chemical engineering from Princeton University and a Ph.D. from Carnegie Mellon University in Engineering and Public Policy.
Weaving together research on diversity in engineering education with autobiographical detail, this talk examines change processes in higher education and what it will take to build STEM learning environments that are equitable and supportive of all students. Arguing that previous framings of diversity as a problem of under-representation or as a celebration of cultural differences preclude critical examination of power relations, Riley seeks to spark a conversation on difference, power, and privilege in STEM education that can lead to an organized social movement for lasting structural change addressing not only sexism and racism, but also ableism, homo-, bi-, and trans- phobia, classism, ageism, and other forms of inequality in STEM.