With the $2 million gift, the HE faculty hope to create the first Humanitarian Engineering bachelor’s degree in the country.
BRINGING HUMANITARIAN ENGINEERING TO THE FOREFRONT
A $2 million gift from Chuck and Louanne Shultz to the Humanitarian Engineering Program at Mines brings corporate social responsibility to the forefront of the engineering curriculum in a way that has never been done before.
Shultz’ inspiration for the gift came from a vision of industry transformation by a new kind of engineer who integrates the social and technical dimensions of their work. He earned a Professional Engineering degree in Geological Engineering in 1961 at Mines, enjoyed a long career as an oil and gas executive and currently lives in Louisville, Kentucky. He also serves on the CSM Foundation Board of Governors.
Having recently served on the board of directors for several large energy extractive companies, he saw a great opportunity to expand from a “social license to operate” to community-based corporate social responsibility, which creates more mutually-satisfying relationships between communities, corporations and government.
Shultz reached out to Juan Lucena and Jessica Smith, both professors in the Humanitarian Engineering Program at Mines. “Before we started working with Chuck, we were focused on the projects that everyone can get behind, like bringing a water treatment facility to Honduras,” said Lucena. “Chuck said, ‘Let’s take on the tough stuff, where communities and the extractive industries intersect.’” His challenge lead the HE group to connect their research and teaching more closely with Mines’ strengths in the mining and energy industries.
Shultz made earlier gifts that brought together all of the players who were talking about these issues individually to create a critical mass on campus, collaborating and raising the profile of Humanitarian Engineering. The gifts also allowed HE faculty to convene a summer institute in 2015 at Mines, where international scholars and practitioners discussed how to integrate CSR into engineering education.
“Up until now, corporate social responsibility has been a concept that mostly existed in business schools,” said Lucena. “The emphasis in an engineering environment is unique to Mines.”
With the new $2 million gift, the HE faculty hope to create the first Humanitarian Engineering bachelor’s degree in the country. Other goals include the creation of a minor in Leadership in Social Responsibility, more specialized undergraduate courses related to CSR and community development, and more students enrolled in Humanitarian Engineering.
“This financial commitment is designed to accelerate the Humanitarian Engineering Program and establish a national reputation for Mines,” said Shultz. “And the time is just right for this program to take off.”
Expanding Humanitarian Engineering may also contribute to the institutional goal at Mines to increase the percentage of female students (currently at 28 percent). The link between social science and engineering is appealing to many female students, and the majority of students minoring in Humanitarian Engineering are women.
“Chuck was ahead of his time, and being able to work with him and Louanne has been a highlight of my time at Mines,” said Smith. “This isn’t about corporate PR or window dressing. Chuck has a deep, sincere desire to do mineral production in a way that is good for both companies and communities.”
Shultz connected Lucena and Smith with industry leaders so they could learn about the realities of the resources that companies are able to put into community issues while answering to shareholder interests. In turn, the professors showed him how CSR can become a vehicle to teach new generations of engineers about social sustainability.