Connecting to the Heart: Teaching Value-Based Professional Ethics

Science and Engineering Ethics 26 (4):2235-2254 (2020)
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Engineering programs in the United States have been experimenting with diverse pedagogical approaches to educate future professional engineers. However, a crucial dimension of ethics education that focuses on the values, personal commitments, and meaning of engineers has been missing in many of these pedagogical approaches. We argue that a value-based approach to professional ethics education is critically needed in engineering education, because such an approach is indispensable for cultivating self-reflective and socially engaged engineers. This paper starts by briefly comparing two prevalent approaches to ethics education in science and engineering: professional and philosophical. While we acknowledge that both approaches help meet certain ethics education objectives, we also argue that neither of these is sufficient to personally engage students in authentic moral learning. We make the case that it is important to connect ethics education to the heart, which is extensively driven by values, and present a value-based approach to professional ethics education. We provide some classroom practices that cultivate a safe, diverse, and engaging learning environment. Finally, we discuss the implications of a value-based approach to professional ethics education for curriculum design and pedagogical practice, including opportunities and challenges for engineering faculty eager to incorporate value-based inquiry into their classrooms.



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Qin Zhu
Virginia Tech

References found in this work

The elements of moral philosophy.James Rachels & Stuart Rachels - 2015 - [Dubuque]: McGraw-Hill Education. Edited by James Rachels.
Confucian role ethics: a vocabulary.Roger T. Ames - 2011 - Hong Kong: The Chinese University Press.
Ethics, Technology, and Engineering: an Introduction.Ibo van de Poel - 2011 - Malden, Mass.: Wiley-Blackwell. Edited by Lambèr M. M. Royakkers.

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