Whose project is it anyway? The case of Waste for Life, Argentina
Book chapter, 2011
The primary cultural tensions that we explore in this chapter are disciplinary and social. We focus on “Engineering Culture” and attempt to critique the practice of engineering service-learning as a very specifi c activity of the Global North, embedded with a priori social and cultural presumptions that map a pro development, charity-based perspective onto the Global South. We fi rst locate engineering in its Northern context and develop a critique of the “common sense” ways of thinking that have emerged, and which infl uence students and teachers alike. We make the point that service-learning based in this paradigm can be at best a charitable aid and at worst destructive to the “receiving” communities. We will use the case of the not-for-profi t organisation Waste for Life, which we founded in 2007, to explore and present some emerging ideas for an alternative approach to the
preparation and consideration of student involvement in community based engineering projects, which might to a certain degree mitigate potential cultural tensions.