11 July 2012

Social Innovation Links Engineers Worldwide

An integral view of engineering is desirable, so all engineer from everywhere can be included to the world wide body of knowledge and share the joy of practice and progress. Current status leads to dull expectations on how engineers can relate, with most discussions echoing lopsided reports, e.g. on technological determination or how one size should fit all. Acquisition of a global view of engineering is not yet possible, as such necessitate practical understanding and recognition of (still) foreign ways to represent data and information. Current, dominant and singular definitions lead to reduced analyses of achievement, in turn further narrowing definitions and thus leading to (international) research unaligned with the multifaceted local realities and needs. Contextual issues like orality and relationality are not yet recognized as informing understanding. Especially the almost exclusive discursive way of communicating within the engineering professions and the hegemony of western thinking seem to be huge barriers for inclusion of all engineers, worldwide.

Social Innovation involves the engendering of innovative activities and services that are motivated by the goal of meeting a social need and that are predominantly developed and diffused through organisations whose primary purposes are social (Mulgan, Tucker, Ali, & Sanders, 2007). The essence of social innovation is the creation of new, innovative solutions for social good. The term social innovation signifies a relative new approach for solving major problems while ensuring that stakeholders are equal partners and that wheels are not reinvented.

Social innovation allows transformation of the positivist, technical, western dominated sciences to encapsulate the important information of culture and context, and thus to include deemed intangible and unquantifiable results of interventions, like social capital. Engineering is an engine of progress for humanity, as it methodologically devised a world-of-things to interact with the world-of-humans. Social innovation augments engineering to address issues affecting us all.

Social Innovation provides an inclusive and intrinsic multidisciplinary approach for sustainable progress for all engineers. It invokes innovations in engineering sensitive of human relationships, and has effects in education, management, development cooperation, and co-creation in general. As such social innovation is instrumental to lead the way, enhance and facilitate local capacity development, and thus opens new venues for innovations and growth of knowledge, and mutual beneficial collaboration.