Peace Engineering: A Partnered Approach to Engineering Education and Research


The increasing impacts of climate change, urbanization, population growth and migration, along with the rapid adoption of technology in our day-to-day lives will continue to create conflict within and among communities; when systems lack the resiliency necessary to dampen this conflict, the outcome is often violence. Knowing that technological design has the ability to both contribute to or mitigate violence, future community leaders will be increasingly involved in all stages of conflict progression, and ultimately in the outcome of either peace or violence. Additionally, engineers will be increasingly involved in guiding the implementation and use of their work. We will explore the role of universities in community partnership and identify skill sets and best practices that will guide the emerging field of peace engineering. 

Dr. Mira Olson is an Associate Professor in the Departments of Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering and Engineering, Leadership and Society at Drexel University. She holds a B.S in Mechanical Engineering and B.A. in Environmental Sciences and Engineering from Rice University, and an M.E. and Ph.D. in Civil (Environmental) Engineering from the University of Virginia. The broad focus of her research is on protecting source water quality, with current interests in transboundary water management and community-based research design. Dr. Olson’s research has been funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF), the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA), the Water Environment Research Foundation (WERF), the United States Geological Survey (USGS), the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), as well as local utilities and foundations. Dr. Olson is a past editor of the International Journal of Engineering, Social Justice and Peace, is trained in community-based learning and currently serves as faculty fellow in Drexel’s Office of University and Community Partnerships. She directs Drexel’s newly established Peace Engineering program. 

Discussant Keil Eggers is a Ph.D. candidate and Peace Engineering Fellow at the Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter School for Peace and Conflict Resolution. He holds an M.A. of International Peace Studies from the UN-Mandated University for Peace. At the Carter School Peace Engineering Lab, he focuses on developing scalable intervention strategies to conflict powered by a narrative sense-making technology called SenseMaker. In his dissertation research titled “Us Against When: The Futures of Complexity-Informed Conflict Transformation in the United States,” he has adapted SenseMaker methodology to explore interpretations of future artifacts generated by prominent U.S.-based peacebuilding organizations in order to make interventions in states at risk for political violence more meaningful, scalable, and successful.

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