How engineering, social justice, and peace are related?
Everything is related to everything, somehow it is possible to find elements of coincidence with anything, for example, we share the same planet, we are governed by the laws of physics and our energy flows. Perhaps, what is interesting is to detail the how, explore in detail how a discipline is connected with social justice and peace.
Due to the decisions that led me to study, practice and problematize engineering, it will be my place of enunciation, my floor to create observation bridges.
Thinking about a relationship makes me question how engineering contributes to, obstructs, or ignores social justice and peace. The agency of individuals, their institutions, and discipline create, maintain, and transform the world. Analyzing the connections could lead us to change our practices and understand that, as a human creation, it is possible to transform it and that it is up to us as a society and as individuals to make these actions possible to generate changes.
To assume that engineering is neutral, ahistorical, and that can even ignore the society that creates it, is, at the very least, nonsense and absurd. Engineering is permeated by interests that privilege or make certain knowledge and uses invisible. Studies in engineering, technology, and society have demystified the possibility of the development of a discipline isolated from the past. The apparent indifference to certain social, cultural, and political issues adds to the hegemonic position that injustices tend to reinforce.
The obstacle to engineering is to maintain and develop world models that go against peace and social justice. For example, technologies have created digital divides and the upsurge of war. With some engineering projects, it is now possible to generate greater damage, in less time, the imposition of utility, efficiency, and effectiveness as the only horizons of the meaning of the profession create and aggravate the problems of society.
Engineering's contribution to social justice and peace is the first relationship that springs to mind when combining these three terms.
A spirit of hope and illusion emerges; that is why it deserves more attention and suspicion. The fact that today there is a Network of Engineering, Social Justice and Peace is nothing more than the result of individuals dissatisfied with the apparent benefits to society. I well remember the motivations that led me to study engineering, the aspiration to have tools to face a number of problems, which I assumed as my own but which we share as a society. At that time I saw the need to create an artifact that would fill the streets with trees, for me technology would be that great savior that would rescue me from a society indifferent to the reduction of natural ecosystems. I have always been a sensitive woman, my soul suffers from the pain of others, despite having parents with training in social sciences and an environment that fueled the debate. A taste for mathematics, a satisfaction in finding answers in unknowns that I had not considered, an imaginary in front of social status, and greater work maneuverability led me to study engineering. During the first semesters, doubts came. One by recognizing my low cultural capital in an academic committed to the best possible training. Two an ignorance of my hands to transform the world, immersed in calculations, abstractions and readings that saw as few and few laboratory practices, field trips and connection with a latent reality. Three absence of multiple stories, feeling of silence in the face of circumstances that warranted a position and a voice, lack of resources to face ethical dilemmas typical of the profession. Those doubts continued and continue today, but with the passage of time, I have been better at reconciling the possibilities and limitations of engineering and myself.
Engineering creates unimaginable worlds, realities only possible through a computer, potentiates other knowledge and knowledge, medicine, for example, would not be what it is today without engineering, the world that I know exists in a network of relationships whose one of its nodes more massive and recurring is engineering. The positive relationship that we give to our profession in the service of social justice and peace will be determined by our capacity at the individual, collective and structural level to continue to open up questions, possibilities, and actions. Although I did not learn to calculate bridges at university, I declare myself a bridge builder, a forger of possible worlds where there is room for broader analyzes of our decisions, which lead us to the discipline and rigor that a more socially just world requires. peace.