The Disconnect Between Engineering Students Desire to Discuss Racial Injustice in the Classroom and Faculty Anxieties
Protests against racial injustice have been increasing in the United States. Universities often rapidly respond to acts of injustice through public statements about their position to uphold the equality of all people. To gauge the desires and concerns around discussing events causing social unrest in engineering classrooms specifically, the engineering education faculty chair of a large university conducted discussions with both students and faculty regarding its place in their classrooms. This paper describes the emerging themes from survey responses using coding and grounded theory. Reactions from students and faculty were decidedly different. Most students stressed the importance of discussing such topics in class with their engineering faculty, while most faculty emphasized their concerns with doing so due to their lack of training to effectively handle such topics. This paper describes the evaluation of student and faculty responses and its implications for supporting diversity and inclusion in the engineering classroom.