it is a reflective writing task where you need to do some research on the topic of the treatment of Indigenous Australians, and consider some of the ethical issues that have evolved over the years, and how they relate to engineering.
Engineering Ethics in light of indigenous Australians
I have leant that in 1770 Captain James Cook drafted a map of the Australian Coast and returned to England with results that favored colonization of Sydney (then known as botany bay) (Roberts, 2013). In 1788 the first British fleet to commence colonization of Australia arrived in Sydney and thus the colony of New South Wales was formed. Captain Arthur Philip was the commanding officer for the expedition and the day is now commemorated as “Australia Day” (Bashford, 2013). Australia then was used for convict settlements which was because criminals with grave sentences were transported to Australia with the aim of ex-communicating them from England. The native population of Australia was thus driven away from their natural homes and forced to settle in parts that were yet to be colonized (Malaspinas et al., 2016). It is evident from my personal experience that the indigenous population of Australia since then had seen a rapid fall in density. However the treatment of the indigenous population has evolved into a more ethical and humane approach and innovations in even the field of engineering makes ethical considerations for the indigenous population. The following paragraphs will elaborate on these consideration and the advantages ushered in by them in communicating with the indigenous population.
In my opinion the social inclusion and social integration of Aboriginal or Torres Strait inlanders have been attempted by the provision of subsidized education and welfare policies. There are universities that would even provide scholarships for indigenous Australians who wish to enroll in courses purely based on their domicile (Leigh et al., 2015). However, despite these efforts indigenous Australian students seldom enroll for courses in fields such as technology and innovation (Engineering). Research has shown that this could ideally be a consequence of the non-integration of indigenous Australian values and cultural ethics into these fields (Lublin & Wright, 2013). Thus it may be inferred, from my perspective that the indigenous population would be more inclined to participate in technological advancement and innovation if the discipline itself embodied their cultural ethics and value system. A consistent problem with indigenous Australian students who enroll in courses is that they are the first in their families to receive university education. In such a case they lack the guidance towards such disciples that traditional students receive from their families. Another important problem is the lack of role models in the same context (Goldfinch & Hollis, 2016). Thus by incorporating such ethical principles that would aid in filling these gaps is the best recourse for this situation.
According to my analysis the knowledge held by the indigenous population with regard to technological advancements and the field of engineering is not amply clear and thus needs to be researched. Furthermore, technological advancements and achievements within the indigenous population have not been highlighted enough to successfully spread awareness about the same. The first major difference between the students from the indigenous population and traditional student is that the use of land to a traditional student is the mobilization of personal property with an aim of gaining profits from the venture (Kennedy et al., 2016). In indigenous Australian culture land has a higher position than that of a means of mobilization of property and is regarded with a deeper meaning. This makes it evident that the treatment of land as merely personal property is not a proper approach in terms of educating the indigenous population. This concept would thus have to be integrated into the courses to ensure that the understanding of the subject is not varied when imparting knowledge to the traditional students and indigenous students.
The second important ethical consideration in my opinion, which would mostly create a situation where indigenous student would be more inclined to enroll in such courses, is the integration of Aboriginal engineering into the course framework of engineering courses. This would mean looking into the technological changes in the aboriginal communities over the years and including an understanding of these changes into the framework of the course. This is a challenging ordeal as communicating with the aboriginal communities is evidently difficult. There is also room for misinterpretation when making these communications. However, having an understanding of their knowledge of engineering is en ethical consideration that must be made when attempting to change the present scenario in relation to enrollment of indigenous Australian students (Nicholas, 2016). This would also help make the course more relatable for these students and would also encourage them to involve themselves in the field more when their traditional counterparts gain an adequate knowledge of Aboriginal engineering.
The third consideration would be researching into the overlapping areas of the traditional approach to engineering and the aboriginal approach to engineering to find overlapping areas. These overlapping areas ensure that the course in more informative to the aboriginal students in ways that is they can relate to (Kutay & Leigh, 2017). These overlapping areas would also ensure that other students enrolled in the same courses would have a proper understanding of the intellectual bridges in engineering education.
These changes would thus increase the student density of indigenous Australians in universities that offer engineering courses. The entire point of proposing these changes is a larger involvement of the indigenous community in the education sector. Technological changes that embody these ethical considerations also ensure that the indigenous population of Australia is more reliant on the quality of life offered in other communities in Australia. These steps would also help realize any innovations currently paused due to gaps in the understanding of engineering in the aboriginal community. These communities are closely knit and have very limited interaction with the outside world but an incorporation of these ethical principles would ideally invite these communities to communicate in a better way with other communities and be more involved with the societal structure of Australia. These efforts are thus the first step to a more inclusive approach to the profession of engineering.
I have also leant that engineers have a prescribed code of conduct which is formulated by the Institute of Engineers Australia (Nicholas, 2016). An incorporation of these ethical considerations into the prescribed code of conduct would also help further the purpose of such inclusion. An incorporation of these ideals would also help outside communities have a better understanding of the aboriginal communities.
In my opinion an inclusion of these ethical principles would help me understand the aboriginal perspective in a more comprehensive way. This understanding would aid in communication with aboriginal communities and would help in identifying the extent of their understanding of engineering and the gaps in the same. I would also be able to relate to their value system and the attributed ideals involved in the decision making process when formulating a particular innovation (McRae-Williams & Guenther, 2014). The aboriginal community would also be more accepting when dealing with people who have an idea of their perspective on ethical considerations. Their technological advancements would also be highlighted and all sections of the aboriginal community would thus be made aware of the same. These would also inspire subsequent generations to engage in the field of technology and further enhance the technological stand of that community.
Bashford, A. (2013). The Anthropocene is modern history: reflections on climate and Australian deep time. Australian Historical Studies, 44(3), 341-349.
Goldfinch, T., & Hollis, X. (2016). Current engineering education and training practices on Aboriginal cultural heritage.
Kennedy, J., Goldfinch, T., Leigh, E., McCarthy, T., Prpic, J. K., & Dawes, L. (2016). A Beginners Guide to Incorporating Aboriginal Perspectives into Engineering Curricula.
Kutay, C., & Leigh, E. (2017). Aboriginal Engineering for an enduring civilisation. In 28th Annual Conference of the Australasian Association for Engineering Education (AAEE 2017) (p. 6). Australasian Association for Engineering Education.
Leigh, E., Goldfinch, T., Dawes, L., Prpic, J. K., McCarthy, T., & Kennedy, J. (2015). Shifting the Focus. Incorporating knowledge about Aboriginal engineering into main stream content. In Proceedings of the 26th Annual Conference of the Australasian Association for Engineering Education. School of Engineering, Deakin University.
Lublin, D., & Wright, M. (2013). Engineering inclusion: Assessing the effects of pro-minority representation policies. Electoral Studies, 32(4), 746-755.
Malaspinas, A. S., Westaway, M. C., Muller, C., Sousa, V. C., Lao, O., Alves, I., ... & Heupink, T. H. (2016). A genomic history of Aboriginal Australia. Nature, 538(7624), 207.
McRae-Williams, E., & Guenther, J. (2014). Learning pathways for economic enterprise in remote Aboriginal communities: are Certificate IIIs the ticket. In 17th AVETRA International Conference: Informing changes in VET policy and practice: The central role of research, Surfers Paradise(pp. 22-24).
Nicholas, T. (2016). Exploring Aboriginal histories and cultures through cool burning. Planning News, 42(5), 28.
Roberts, S. H. (2013). History of Australian land settlement. Routledge.