Our commitments

We are committed to envisioning and practicing engineering in ways that extend social justice and peace in the world. This commitment manifests in two major areas: First, by understanding how technology and society are co-constructed, we are committed to identifying and dismantling specific occurrences of injustice related to engineering and technology. Second, in collaboration with community groups facing specific structures of injustice, we are committed to devising and developing technologies and other engineering solutions (broadly conceived) to the problems they face. These commitments are elaborated herein.

We are committed to resisting injustice in its many forms through promotion of diversity and inclusivity, and by working towards fair, equitable, and sustainable treatment of people and their environments. We are critical of structures of thought conducive to injustice, including the reductionism and positivism prevalent in engineering. We oppose globalized economic policies that lead to the breaking of local networks of labor, production, and food provision.

While social justice is our goal, we do not adhere to a singular definition of social justice or a static notion of what it entails. We are committed to continually redefining social justice along side those who experience injustices. We recognize that social justice is contextual, attaining significance within particular times, places, and social locations. Thus, our expression of shared commitments is necessarily always incomplete, and needs to change to reflect our growing consciousness and the shifting urgency of different forms of injustice. We look to social and community movements around the world and in our own locales to guide our commitments.

We are committed to working for peace and nonviolence—within ourselves, our group, the engineering profession, and the wider world. We understand peace and social justice to be mutually constituted, each requiring the other to be meaningful. We are unsettled by the close relationship between engineering and militarism, both historically and in the present, and are committed to engineering that alleviates suffering caused by violence of all sorts.

We are committed to reflexivity—to resisting injustice even as we recognize our complicity with it. As members of different engineering communities, we recognize the structural forces impinging on the profession that perpetuate and reinforce problematic forms of power and privilege. Our participation in these structures necessarily affects how we view social justice and peace. We therefore seek to work critically and inter-disciplinarily to interrogate these structural forces and our relationships to them.

We are committed to praxis—to translating ideas into action and to recognizing their interconnectedness. We are committed to sustaining an ecology of ideas and practices, acknowledging that our thoughts and actions are informed by our surroundings, including the very different settings we find ourselves in around the world and the shared setting we create within the group.

We are committed to equity and sharing where they support justice goals. We are committed to participatory decision making. We are committed to collaboration within the group—to assisting one another personally, intellectually, and professionally—recognizing interconnectedness and shared resources. We are committed to practice reciprocity between the group and other groups with similar goals.

We are committed to maintaining independent and critical voices. We refuse corporate sponsorship of any of our activities, and we commit that none of us, when we engage in the work of ESJP, is acting on behalf of the groups or institutions with which we are affiliated. We oppose extractive approaches to research in which the knowledge of one community becomes the property of another. We celebrate the diversity that exists beyond our shared commitments, and we respect variation among us in priorities and strategies employed to propagate social justice and peace.

We are committed to the fundamental principles of:

  • Respecting and promoting differentiation of all species
  • Recognizing the intrinsic worth of each element of the Universe and
  • Nurturing the sense of community that binds each element together in the tapestry

Anyone is welcome who shares our values and commitments and is willing to join in the work before us. We seek to work in solidarity with other movements, especially social justice movements that encounter technology and other movements in engineering which address social justice and peace. We are committed to organizing in our own community and to maintaining an action network that joins in solidarity with other causes and seeks to build support in social justice communities around issues of engineering, social justice, and peace.

On recognizing our complicity in the structures we oppose, see Clare.
On reflexivity, see the Critical Theory entry in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
On power relations, see Foucault.
On praxis, see infed.
On ecology of ideas, see Bateson.
On how corporate power is problematic, see Bakan.

The Coordinating Committee of Engineering, Social Justice, and Peace
September 2010