[Got Ingénieurs Sans Frontières?] Dr. Bernard Amadei, PhD. is professor of engineering and Founder of Engineers Without Borders, which works in communities throughout the world to design and install appropriate, sustainable technologies and infrastructure systems. Engineers Without Borders is working in 39 countries, managing over 500 projects, and deploying 17,000 volunteer engineers and engineering students world-wide.
In this special podcast episode, Professor Amadei, who is on the Y on Earth Community’s Global Advisory Board, discusses not only the sustainable systems, technologies, and strategies one might expect to hear about from an engineer and professor, but also the root causes of our complex and interconnected global challenges, and the ways in which we might approach their solutions – his perspective may surprise you!
Recognizing that the very concept of the “university” was envisioned and established 1,000 years ago by mystics, Professor Amadei suggests that reconnecting with our spiritual natures by cultivating a sense of awe and wonder toward the profoundly complex and beautiful reality that we share on planet Earth. Suggesting that we could be do far better with our modern educational systems, he asks us to consider a future in which a “peace industrial complex” emerges and supersedes the “military industrial complex” about which President Eisenhower warned us almost a century ago. Professor Amadei encourages us to understand global peace, stewardship, and sustainability as not so much a set of technical problems to solve, but a matter of the “inner work” of cultivating ourselves as human beings, and transforming the deep-seated social constructs influencing our technology, economics, and governance systems, perhaps best understood through the “Ice-Berg Model” developed by Benson and Marlin (see image below). Quoting the medieval mystic Meister Eckhart, Professor Amadei emphasizes the importance of being in service, and reminds us that “The outer work cannot be great if the inner work is small.”
ABOUT DR. BERNARD AMADEI, PHD
Dr. Bernard Amadei is a Distinguished Professor and Professor of Civil Engineering at the University of Colorado at Boulder. He received his Ph.D. in 1982 from the University of California at Berkeley. He is the Founding Director of the Mortenson Center in Engineering for Developing Communities. He is also the Founding President of Engineers Without Borders – USA and the co-founder of the Engineers Without Borders-International network. He is the author of numerous peer-reviewed scholarly articles and books, including Engineering for Sustainable Human Development: A Guide to Successful Small-Scale Community Projects and A Systems Approach to Community Development Projects. He is currently writing another book about climate security, peace, and sustainability. Among other distinctions, Dr. Amadei is an elected member of the US National Academy of Engineering and the National Academy of Construction. He is also an elected Senior Ashoka Fellow. Dr. Amadei holds seven honorary doctoral degrees (UMass Lowell; Carroll College; Clarkson; Drexel; Worcester Polytechnic Institute; the Technion in Israel; and SUNY-ESF). In 2013 and 2014, Dr. Amadei served as a Science Envoy to Pakistan and Nepal for the US Department of State. And, Dr. Amadei holds a commercial pilot license (multi-engine land, instrument).