Alternative pathways to social justice

Thoughts, ideas and a Heterotopia in which to examine the transformations necessary in contemporary society.


Many of us are concerned with the structures, systems and values that we meet on a day-to-day basis. We seem to be rushing headlong to a destination not of our choosing. How did we get here and what can we do about it? This book is the result of an exploration into the ideas of transformation. What does it mean to transform the way we live, to something that we value? In this book we take on the challenge of exploring a potential transformation in one professional field, that of engineering, as an example of how we might break free of common dysfunctional discourses and enter what we call a counter hegemonic 'Heterotopia' - a space or place where we might dream alternative futures. The text is a unique collaboration spanning the disciplines of engineering education, philosophy and social theory.


This is a great project. It has plenty of content and relational structures that will continue to provoke insights and lift aspects of cultural hypnosis from its readers. ~ Chris Rose, Senior Critic, Department of Furniture Design, Rhode Island School of Design

This book represents a bold, exciting and thought-provoking foray into the worlds of education, politics and social justice. The authors, writing from disciplines as diverse as engineering and theology, argue coherently for the power of the liminal space as the locus for interdisciplinary enquiry, and the search for common virtues and values out of which emerge new discourses, theories and methodologies. As well as this important theoretical contribution the authors have also rendered complex ideas in a clear and helpful way for those outside the disciplines in question. This book therefore practices what it preaches - namely the application of these daring transformational processes to areas of existing human endeavour. It is now for others to apply the principles and ideas contained in this book to their own situations and contexts. ~ Dr Chris Baker, Director of Research for the William Temple Foundation and Senior Lecturer in Public and Urban Theology in the Department of Theology

It is with great excitement that I write in support of this most important new book on transformations, entitled Heterotopia. It is a book that arrives at a most important period in modern history, a time where humankind has the power to literally transform the world into whatever image it chooses. The questions then at hand are two fold: first, what do we as a society choose and second who among us is actually going to do the choosing? As an engineer and an engineering educator for now over three decades, I have struggled mightily seeking to imagine my profession as one in which social justice is as important to us as it is to the medical and legal professions. I have run head on into the prevailing myths or perhaps more eloquently as described by the authors as the ‘common sense’ view. That view that pervades modern engineering today as it has over the last 200 years precludes any mention of justice relying much more comfortably with the notion of responsibility. That wall of obstructionism is immensely stable and powerful. At times I wonder if it ever can be shattered. I believe that the proposed effort, Heterotopia, offers to all of us a mallet with which we can begin to bring a sense of compassion into my profession, engineering, but also to countless other professions as well. Rapidly advancing technology brings all of us closer together, wherein the concerns of one inevitably becoming the concerns of all. This new closeness is stripping away the false masks, the illusion of difference, which is at the root of injustice and hate and war. The ultimate irony is that engineering, my profession still clings to the dark and poisoning superstition that our world is bounded by the nearest hill, our universe ends at river shore, our common humanity is enclosed in the tight circle of those who share our town and even more powerfully, our views. Heteroptia offers all of us a glimpse into a new world in which the horizon is limitless, bridges to all are constructed and our circle of those for whom we care extends beyond our imaginations. I am most excited at the prospect of this new work. It fills a need, a desperate need, in the professions, which shape our modern world but unfortunately are saddled with limited perspectives at best. A recent conference in San Francisco focused on unlocking the heart of higher education. Heteroptia offers all of us the exciting possibility of not only unlocking that heart but the heart of us all no matter our profession or our work. ~ George D. Catalano, Professor of Bioengineering, Department of Bioengineering, State University of New York at Binghamton

Caroline Baillie
Caroline Baillie Caroline is Chair of Engineering Education at the University of Western Australia in Perth. Previously Caroline was at Queens University, Ki...
John Reader
John Reader Revd Dr John Reader has degrees from the Universities of Oxford (M.A.), Manchester (M.Phil) and University of Wales, Bangor (Ph.D) and is a ...
Jens Kabo
Jens Kabo Jens Kabo is a scholar in the area of engineering education with an interest in the social dimension of engineering. Currently he works at C...
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