A degree course for the 21 century: some implications of post-modernism for the teaching and learning of materials science & engineering

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During the last half-century universities have faced major social and intellectual challenges, often seen as constituting a crisis. It is argued here that the intellectual challenges are associated with a move away from the confidence inherited from the Enlightenment towards the uncertainties of the postmodern condition. The implications for the way in which we educate students are discussed. It is argued that students should be helped to see a broad vision of their subject and its relation to other disciplines. Further, by encouraging them to enter into controversy, to debate and to form opinions, they will develop capabilities needed in their personal and professional lives. The major part of the paper is concerned with pedagogic examples illustrating how these ideas might be implemented in a materials degree course. These challenge students to consider the nature of theories and proof in science; the way non-scientific factors - social, political and economic - influence issues of material resources and pollution; and the dominant social paradigm, which constitutes the unexamined philosophical context of many materials courses.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)95-116
Number of pages22
JournalJournal of Materials Education
Issue number3-4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2012


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