Published: Oct. 8, 2022

A publication spearheaded by the Mortenson Center in Global Engineering & Resilience seeks to create better alignment among academic programs and sector needs when it comes to training engineers in global development.

The publication comes after the center hosted over 100 participants from universities, donors, government agencies and industry partners for a virtual workshop series as part of a National Science Foundation grant to advance engineering education. Together, that group established a comprehensive global engineering body of knowledge and the paper Aligning learning objectives and approaches in global engineering graduate programs: Review and recommendations by an interdisciplinary working group, was recently published in Development Engineering

Mortenson Center Managing Director Laura MacDonald is the lead author. She comments on this first-of-its-kind paper saying, “The role of engineers must evolve and account for structural and systemic barriers to global development and equity. Engineering education must change to support this evolution. What we present in the paper ensures that global engineers have the technical skills they need to succeed, but also the transversal and interdisciplinary skills that are required to work across sectors, with the ultimate goal being global poverty reduction.”  

Laura added, "We’re seeing more students entering our program who want to engage in domestic work and improve the livelihoods of people in the United States. I anticipate that the global engineering curriculum we’ve developed will increasingly be applied in domestic contexts."

The table below presents the 15 learning objectives that emerged from the workshop. Writing committee working groups made revisions to the wording of some of these learning objectives after the workshop, but no changes were made to the focus or intent of each objective.

Learning objectives for global engineering graduate programs.

Learning objective Description
Contextual Comprehension and Analysis Analyze the historical and contemporary context of global inequalities and global development, and poverty alleviation policies, programs, institutions, laws and regulations, and social movements; identify alignments and gaps in (1) research and (2) practice within this context.
Cross-cultural Humility Recognize and respect cultural differences and apply relevant skills to collaborate across cultures, with an emphasis on life-long learning.
Global Engineering Ethics Examine ethical implications of global research and development, including consideration of power imbalances; recognize the limitations of engineering in guiding global development efforts.
Stakeholder Analysis and Engagement Identify project stakeholders and apply appropriate stakeholder communication and consensus building tools.
Complex Systems Analysis Analyze and be aware of the system of various factors (e.g. technical, sociocultural, environmental, political) and actors (components), including interconnections, trade-offs and feedback within systems that influence the efficacy, equity and sustainability of engineering solutions.
Data Collection and Analysis Collect and analyze data using both quantitative and qualitative methods, as appropriate.
Data-driven Decision Making Use methods, tools, instruments and procedures employed in measuring and improving international development projects; discuss commonly used impact evaluation designs and the conditions under which each may be used.
Applied Engineering Knowledge Apply rigorous engineering practices and principles within a global context and specific local contexts, considering unique constraints and requirements imposed by resource-constrained settings.
Project Design Identify tools, methods and approaches for project design; design and assess programmatic Theory of Change and evaluation frameworks for global development interventions.
Project Management Apply project management skills and methods to manage a project from initiation/problem-definition through delivery.
Multidisciplinary Teamwork and Leadership Function effectively on a diverse team whose members together provide leadership, create a collaborative and inclusive environment, establish goals, plan tasks and meet objectives.
Communication Apply and adapt written and oral communication strategies to reach and work with a diverse audience.
Climate Change, Sustainability, and Resilience Identify and analyze the climate-change dimensions of global inequalities and describe pathways to improved sustainability and resilience, including attention to and approaches at local, regional, national and international levels.
Global Health Understand principles of global health practice, apply lessons learned from public health interventions and evaluations, and understand how public health influences and evaluates development programs and projects.
Development Economics Examine historical and current development economics theories and their influence/impact on Global Engineering.