Embedding a strengths-based approach in humanitarian engineering research through reflexive practice

  • Anna Cain
  • Elia Hauge
  • Leandra Rhodes-Dicker
Keywords: strengths-based approaches, reflexive practice, problem solving, engineering identity


Strengths-based approaches (SBAs) aim to empower communities, ensuring community assets are acknowledged and embraced. We embarked on a process to embed an SBA in ourselves as humanitarian engineering researchers. Through a process of collaborative reflexive practice, we discussed themes of engineering identity and problem-solving mentalities, power dynamics across a research process, theories for humanitarian engineering research, deficit terminology, and more. SBA tools and activities aided our process, allowing us to trial practical applications of an SBA across a research process. Through our journeys, we explored the empowering and transformational qualities of SBAs, which present in this paper. We emphasise that SBAs should not be seen as toolbox approaches, but rather as a philosophy that can be incorporated on both professional and personal levels. We present our model for embedding an SBA through reflexive practice, and we encourage others to consider the potential, and the importance, or both reflexivity and SBAs.