The MetaKettle Project was initiated in June 2010 by Dr. Cecilia Moloney as a legacy of the NSERC/Petro-Canada Chair for Women in Science and Engineering, Atlantic Region, 2004-2009 (CWSEA). Building upon the mandate of the CWSEA to increase the participation of women in science and engineering, the MetaKettle Project extends the CWSEA goals; it aims to increase the diversity of students studying science and engineering, while enhancing the long-term sustainability of graduates over their careers and lives. We are working to grow the MetaKettle Project into a nexus for curricular development and pedagogical support as well as a cross-disciplinary arena for transformative educational experiences.
The MetaKettle Project provides an innovative and strategic opportunity to place Memorial University among the forefront of universities in North America that are changing the way we educate engineers and scientists. The Project responds to several drivers for change coming from governments, industry, professional licensing associations and from students themselves. These drivers for change are the challenge to universities to educate engineers and scientists who understand their disciplines from fundamental principles but who also have process skills to enable them to work on interdisciplinary teams, provide leadership to self and others, and integrate a wide range of relevant factors about contexts at hand. In addition, todays students also seek relevance in their education, not just for immediate career opportunities but for consistency with their life aspirations, including a sense of meaning and connection with their inner values and motivations, and with their local and global communities.
The MetaKettle Project at Memorial University is meeting these drivers for change that call for higher education and professional training to be more integrative, broad-based, and socially responsible. The MetaKettle seeks to distinguish itself as a key agent in brewing this holistic advantage by capitalizing on the emerging sea-change that is set to transform 21st Century engineering and science education in North America. A focus on leadership, interdisciplinary dialogue, sustainability, and collaboration in our programming ensures that the MetaKettle will foster not just successful university graduates, but engaged global citizens.
The MetaKettle is cultivating a network of forward-thinking collaborators across the university, as well as across the country and in the United States. Memorial Universitys history of excellence in science and engineering education as well as its unique position as the sole university of Newfoundland and Labrador will heighten the MetaKettles influence not just within the province but within Canada, and indeed within North America.
Projects within the MetaKettle umbrella include the following:
- We are building towards a dialogue-based semester program for engineering and science, inspired by the Undergraduate Semester in Dialogue at Simon Fraser University. Towards this end, The Lead by Design Institute for Leadership, Diversity and Dialogue, a pilot co-curricular course for engineering graduate students was offered in April 2014.
- We have assisted the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science to prepare for outcomes-based evaluation measures required for accreditation of the engineering programs as of 2013.
- We have developed module materials on leadership for graduate students, on
how to think about science, and on engineering ethics for courses in the engineering profession stream.
- We have collaborated with colleagues in the Faculties of Arts and Education on a research project on creative methods to foster research writing for graduate students in the humanities and in engineering.
- We collaborated with a community partner to organize Engineering in Edgewise: A Public Salon for the 21st Century in April 2014.
- Other elements planned or underway come from a longer list of potential activities (seminars, focus groups, workshops, scientific cafés, etc.) that focus on community engagement, technological and scientific literacy, interdisciplinary collaboration, and effective communication.
We situate our work in the MetaKettle Project within the Teaching and Learning Framework and the Public Engagement Framework of Memorial University. In addition, we engage in research projects to obtain evidence-based results to inform the development of MetaKettle programming.
The name MetaKettle starts with the simple, everyday kettle, an enduring design and artefact from antiquity, symbolic of human productivity and ingenuity and of the natural bent of human beings towards discovery. Kettles are eminently practical for producing the steaming mugs of tea or coffee over which ideas are discussed and relationships formed within communities. While kettles represent the work of science or engineering, i.e. the product of engineering and the content of science, the MetaKettle is the whole in the Kettle, i.e. the person who is the engineer or scientist. Thus, the MetaKettle Project is intent upon brewing big picture thinking about science and engineering education. This includes critically reflecting on the what and how of engineering and science, as well as the dynamic who and why of the person who aspires to be an engineer or scientist.
See our website at http://www.mun.ca/springinstitute/metakettle/