2019 CoNECD - The Collaborative Network for Engineering and Computing Diversity

Targeted Harassment of Engineering Education Researchers: How to Connect with Community and Support Your Colleagues Under Attack

Presented at Track: Special Topics - Social Justice & Reform Technical Session 2

Over the last few years, there has been an increase in the number of STEM education scholars who have been harassed due to the topic, design, or claims of their scholarship. This harassment has included social media attacks, phone calls, hate emails, threats of violence, and more. The American Association of University Professors considers targeted harassment of faculty one of its featured campaigns; the AAUP notes that the recent increase in the number of harassment reports now extends beyond the communities who have historically endured such attacks to include climate change researchers, and scholars working in ethnic studies, gender studies, and LGBTQ+ studies. Harassment differs from academic critique in its tone and content - it does not constitute debate on the technical, cognitive, logical, conceptual, or other points that scholars disagree on, but instead is repetitive behavior that is threatening or violent in tone, often inaccurate in content, and designed to silence the researcher by making them afraid to state their claims aloud or in writing. Engineering education equity scholars have increasingly been targeted both by well-funded operations such as Campus Reform as well as by other engineering faculty. This targeted harassment of scholars threatens academic freedom; organizations like AAUP have developed new resources to both support scholars who are targeted, and organize universities employing such scholars to stand in vigorous defense of academic freedom. In this special panel session, we will present recent cases of harassment in the engineering education research (EER) equity field, solicit more stories in order to connect with more scholars that may think they are alone and unsupported, provide specific examples of how universities have responded or should respond when their scholars come under attack, and share resources and advice on how to support scholars under attack at their universities.

  1. Dr. Erin A. Cech University of Michigan [biography]
Download paper (1.9 MB)

Are you a researcher? Would you like to cite this paper? Visit the ASEE document repository at peer.asee.org for more tools and easy citations.

» Download paper

« View session

For those interested in:

  • Advocacy and Policy
  • Broadening Participation in Engineering and Engineering Technology