Theorizing the "social" in sociotechnical, community-based engineering: incorporating a rapid assessment procedure in educational and field-based studies on Colombian artisanal and small-scale gold mining
|Smith, Jessica, 1980-
|Smits, Kathleen M.
|Includes bibliographical references.
|Engineering and scientific fields now widely recognize how crucial it is to understand and incorporate “social” factors to conceptualize complex systems, inform design, and guide projects. However, most engineers and natural scientists are not trained to analyze social factors as comprehensively as technical ones. Thus, the overarching aim of this thesis was to help diverse, technically-minded audiences rethink the “social” dimensions of sociotechnical systems by drawing from established social science, social justice, community-based research, and humanitarian engineering frameworks. Moreover, this thesis sought to ground these theoretical ideals with concrete educational and field-based tools and case studies centered on challenges within the Colombian artisanal and small-scale gold mining (ASGM) sector–a rural livelihood with significant environmental, political, technical, and social entanglements. The broad research questions focused on assessing the opportunities and barriers for implementing transdisciplinary tools, as well as analyzing what these tools could reveal about sociotechnical ASGM systems. This thesis includes two cases for different audiences: 1) an educational study for systems engineers in which we taught an anthropological Rapid Assessment Procedure (RAP) to students to help them conduct front-end stakeholder needs analysis with ASGM community members; 2) a field-based study for socio-hydrologists in which we applied RAP in an ASGM community to characterize the qualitative mechanisms driving coupled human-water systems. In both studies, we contributed to ongoing theoretical discussions on the current limits and opportunities for enhancing “social” aspects of transdisciplinary work by synthesizing literature from humanitarian engineering and social science. In the applied portions of this thesis, we found that RAP was a helpful tool in both educational and field-based settings. In the RAP workshop, students perceived practical benefits from RAP and demonstrated positive learning outcomes in analyzing ASGM stakeholder needs. In the field in Colombia, RAP allowed us to identify patterns of hydrological-risk-based livelihood decisions in ASGM and agricultural sectors that paradoxically threatened the very water resources that these livelihoods depended on, ultimately revealing critical points of intervention for sustainable water resource management. These findings indicate the need for further theoretical and applied research on how engineering and natural science disciplines can fruitfully collaborate with social science fields to take people more effectively into account in sociotechnical problem definition and solving.
|Colorado School of Mines. Arthur Lakes Library
|2022 - Mines Theses & Dissertations
|Copyright of the original work is retained by the author.
|water resource sustainability
|Theorizing the "social" in sociotechnical, community-based engineering: incorporating a rapid assessment procedure in educational and field-based studies on Colombian artisanal and small-scale gold mining
|Lucena, Juan C.
|Restrepo Baena, Oscar Jaime
|Master of Science (M.S.)
|Engineering, Design and Society
|Colorado School of Mines
|Embargo Expires: 11/04/2023