What Is Engineering Ethics Education? Exploring How the Education of Ethics Is Defined by Engineering Instructors

In Albrecht Fritzsche & Andrés Santa-María (eds.), Rethinking Technology and Engineering: Dialogues Across Disciplines and Geographies. Springer Verlag. pp. 263-282 (2023)
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The literature on engineering ethics education highlights the diversity of goals and topics employed in its instruction. The contribution aims to examine the conceptualisation of engineering ethics education in terms of how it is defined and how its goals are articulated. The research is conducted in cooperation with the national accrediting body Engineers Ireland. It is based on interviews with instructors teaching courses self-identified by engineering programmes as having a strong ethical component and evaluators serving on accreditation panels. The main findings confirm the existence of a varied and uneven understanding of engineering ethics education. The study encountered conflicting views and lack of clarity as to what falls under the scope of engineering ethics education, especially when considering the topics of sustainability and safety. In terms of goals, instructors emphasize fostering responsibility, enabling agency and developing broad and critical thinkers, while value sensitive design was found to have a lesser conceptual prominence. The study also found that engineering ethics is preponderantly defined through its connection to engineering practice, rather than in its theoretical dimension. The chapter is envisioned to contribute to debates tracing the conceptual domain of engineering ethics education, given that clarifying educational goals is an important prerequisite for employing and designing consistent instructional methods.



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Diana Martin
University College London

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