Truth Be Told, DEI Needs to D-I-E

Dr. James Holly Jr.

Presented by Dr. James Holly, Jr., Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering and core faculty member within the Engineering Education Research program at the University of Michigan.

In the field of engineering, the rhetoric regarding diversity, equity, and inclusion has operated to advance progress without changing underlying factors that continue to perpetuate inequities within engineering. During this lecture, Dr. Holly will discuss issues within engineering, including content, culture and consequences that prevent Black people from being recognized as humans.

Attendees will be encouraged to reflect on the history and philosophy of engineering and the ways racism is embedded into it. Dr. Holly will also provide strategies on how to become more educated on sociopolitical power within this structure, and how we can take a holistic approach to make racial equity a reality in engineering.

Transcript for Truth Be Told, DEI Needs to D-I-E

About Dr. James Holly, Jr.:

Dr. James Holly, Jr. earned a bachelor’s degree from Tuskegee University and a master’s degree from Michigan State University, both in Mechanical Engineering. He earned his doctorate in Engineering Education from Purdue University.

His research paradigm is shaped by his experiences growing up in a Black church within a Black city and later studying engineering at Tuskegee University, a Black institution, three spaces where Blackness is both normal and esteemed. As such, he sees his teaching, research, and service as promoting pro-Blackness—affirming the humanity and epistemic authority of Black people—in engineering education.

His scholarship focuses on the ways disciplinary knowledge (i.e., mechanical engineering) reinforces racialized power, the role of culture and cognition in teaching and learning, and preparing pre-college engineering educators to identify and counteract racial inequity. He directs the Afro-Epistemic Academics, a research group whose focus is to esteem the heritage knowledge of Black engineering students, faculty, and researchers, along with nourishing their self-knowledge; also, to support non-Black scholars committed to accomplishing racial justice in engineering.