Sarah Brownell Headshot

Sarah Brownell

Senior Lecturer

Dean’s Office
Kate Gleason College of Engineering

585-475-4076
Office Location

Sarah Brownell

Senior Lecturer

Dean’s Office
Kate Gleason College of Engineering

585-475-4076

Currently Teaching

EGEN-495
3 Credits
In this alternative capstone project course, students from diverse disciplines work in collaboration with community partners on projects that are defined and supported by residents with community organizations in Rochester and around the world. Community organizations have extensive knowledge about their environment, passion for their work, power to make change in the lives of individuals and their community, and the ability to inspire others…but have not typically enjoyed as much access to the resources of Universities as industry and government. This course seeks to strengthen connections and build relationships between the University and community groups. Students receive team coaching from a Collaborative Community Capstone guide as well as advising from an expert in their discipline as they work on their project. The traditional capstone experiences of teamwork, planning, project management and application of disciplinary learning are supplemented by coaching around best practices for authentic community engagement that is sensitive to cultural, economic and power differentials, grows trusting relationships, and promotes project outcomes that support community wellbeing. In this course, students will gain strategies and confidence in working with diverse partners using democratic principles, consider the ethical and social implications of their civic participation and professional work, and join an inspirational team of people working together for a better world—all while completing their capstone requirements. Each semester the course will follow a Plan, Do, Check, Act, Reflect process. Students taking the course as an alternative to Multidisciplinary Senior Design will take the course twice, doing additional work on the same project.
ISEE-684
3 Credits
This course helps students develop a system of holistic thinking about engineering pursuits which includes the natural environment, humans as individuals, economics, culture, institutions, policies, and civil society. Topics include research, design, dissemination, and evaluation techniques of the Human Centered Design Methodology (also called Design Thinking), Systems Practice tools for understanding complex problems, comparison of competing economic viewpoints, and evaluation of project case studies for triple bottom line sustainability. The course will include an extensive community engaged experiential learning component with a community partner in the city of Rochester which requires periodic travel to the partner’s site for interviews and activities. The course project is intended to lead to ideas that can be continued into social impact design capstone projects for implementation.
ITDL-205
3 Credits
We face grand challenges in the 21st century that will test our collective intelligence and resourcefulness — global change, new diseases, the need for access to clean water, technological developments that are changing us and our relation to the world. We have the opportunity to transform our future through innovation and leadership, but we need to improve our critical thinking, innovate towards possible solutions, and work across disciplines to meet these common challenges. This course is therefore open to all students with the curiosity, imagination, and commitment to meet such challenges. We need engineers, scientists, public policy specialists, and humanists — individuals from every field of study and endeavor –– to contribute to global efforts to meet these challenges. One of the most important challenges of our time — and one identified by the National Academy of Engineers as among fourteen Grand Challenges— is that of providing access to clean water to people across the globe. This course focuses on this grand challenge though interdisciplinary links between the liberal arts and engineering. Students will work in teams to analyze the scope of the clean water problem, examine real case studies, trouble shoot observed problems, and propose alternative solutions. Given the social and cultural contexts within which the need for clean water access arises, this course encourages students to think holistically about sustainable solutions rather than narrowly about the technical quick fix.
SOIS-498
1 - 6 Credits
Independent study.
STSO-230
3 Credits
Are you passionate about addressing the socially-complex, wicked problems of our time? This interdisciplinary, active-learning course will lay the groundwork for students who want to participate in future place-based community-engaged research, development or design projects that build on community strengths and address community determined challenges. Through literature reviews, discussions, cases study analysis, role plays, debates, reflective writing, and visits with experienced community practitioners, we will explore the larger context of the systems within which we live and how others have engaged in efforts to improve community wellbeing both locally and globally. We will strive for a more nuanced understanding of our world and its power dynamics from various perspectives. We will investigate the context in which community and economic development has traditionally occurred, how technology has been involved, and the effects of projects and activities on the “beneficiaries”. We will investigate best practices including mindsets, worldviews, skills, processes, and tools for community-driven positive change. Finally we will use all our learnings to develop our own evaluation framework and apply it to a current community project. This course incorporates humanities and social science approaches and counts for general education requirements.

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