Thesis Projects

The following is an example of a possible dissertation project with CLUSTER. Please contact either Jo or Nicki for details of this and other opportunities.

Engineering education as an autopoietic system

In spite of an enormous and sustained commitment to diversifying engineering, undergraduate programs continue to be characterized by a predominately white, male, and privileged population with a preference for objective, convergent, and quantitative ways of thinking. Drawing on complex systems theory, we propose that this apparent systemic resistance to change is rooted in mechanisms of social autopoiesis; in other words, the tendency for complex social systems to reproduce themselves through self-definitional, persistent cultural patterns. According to systems theorists, these patterns are created and maintained through communication flows or “stories” that are told, retold, and enacted in the system.

This graduate research opportunity will focus on investigating how different forms of communication in engineering education programs reproduce dominant engineering cultures. 



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