Dean Nieusma

HASS Associate Dean for Curricular Transition & Associate Professor, Science and Technology Studies

Dean Nieusma studies engineering reform from a variety of perspectives—professional, educational, epistemological, and cultural—focusing particularly on efforts at the intersection of technical and social dimensions of engineering. Nieusma also develops courses and curricula that integrate engineering and liberal education, such as within Rensselaer’s signature interdisciplinary Programs in Design and Innovation (PDI), which he directs.

Nieusma’s research interests extend to include design and social studies of design, development and appropriate technology, renewable energy technology and policy, and the relationship between expertise and democratic processes. He has advised numerous student groups, currently including the Rensselaer chapters of Design For America and Engineers for a Sustainable World.

Nieusma’s research, teaching, and educational reform efforts have earned him numerous awards, including a Fulbright Award (Sri Lanka), the Faculty Project of the Year Award in Peace Studies, the Class of 1951 Outstanding Teacher Award, the David M. Darrin Counseling Award, and the Rensselaer Founders Award.

Nieusma’s publications include the book, Engineering and War: Militarism, Ethics, Institutions, Alternatives, with Ethan Blue and Michael Levine (Morgan & Claypool, 2014) as well as book chapters and articles in journals like Engineering Studies; Design Issues; IEEE’s Technology and Society; and Sustainability: Science, Policy, Practice.

Nieusma is active in the American Society for Engineering Education’s Liberal Education/Engineering and Society Division and the Society for Social Studies of Science. He is also a founding member of the Engineering, Social Justice, and Peace international network and a founding editor of the open-source, peer-reviewed International Journal of Engineering, Social Justice, and Peace.


PhD, Science and Technology Studies, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

MS, Science and Technology Studies, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute 

BS in Engineering, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor

Bachelors of General Studies, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor 

Research Focus
  • design and social studies of design
Select Works
  • In press. “Middle-out Social Change: Expert-led EJ Initiatives in Sri Lanka’s Energy Sector.” Technoscience, Environmental Justice, and the Spaces Between: Transforming Expert Cultures through Grassroots Engagement. MIT Press.
  • In Press. “Materializing Nano Equity: Lessons from Design.” In The 2009 Yearbook of Nanotechnology in Society, Jameson Wetmore and Susan Cozzens, editors. Springer.
  • 2010. “Designs on Development: Engineering, Globalization, and Social Justice” (Nieusma and Riley). Engineering Studies.
  • 2007. “Challenging Knowledge Hierarchies to Achieve Sustainable Development in Sri Lanka.” Sustainability: Science, Policy, Practice 3.1 (Spring): 32-44.
  • 2004. “Alternative Design Scholarship: Working toward Appropriate Design.” Design Issues 20.3 (Summer): 13-24.