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A Curriculum With Human Rights In The Engineering Programme

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2002 Annual Conference


Montreal, Canada

Publication Date

June 16, 2002

Start Date

June 16, 2002

End Date

June 19, 2002



Conference Session

Moral Theories and Engineering Ethics

Page Count


Page Numbers

7.42.1 - 7.42.8



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Paper Authors

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S. Ratnajeevan Hoole

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Dushyanthi Hoole

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Session 2002- 3261

A Curriculum with Human Rights in an Engineering Program and its Implementation

Dushyanthi Hoole and S.R.H. Hoole Faculty of Engineering, University of Peradeniya, Peradeniya, Sri Lanka


Human Rights has been described as the most important political legacy of the last century. But it remains an esoteric part of the curriculum for lawyers and even that usually in non-American law schools. Engineers rarely hear of human rights as part of a required program. This is a two part paper. The first gives real-life scenarios from Sri Lanka and other countries that may be used as a starting point for discussions in class demonstrating the many important legal and business reasons for teaching human rights to engineers. The second part of the paper gives the curriculum developed specially for engineers and delivered at the University of Peradeniya and the experience in teaching the course.

The need to teach human rights to engineers

In the US “the business system” is well-tested and mature. It keeps domestic laws relatively unbroken and an engineer can generally manage day-to-day affairs within the law from common- sense, without knowing exactly what the laws are. For example, hiring in a US corporation would involve someone knowledgeable in the law so that child-rights laws will tend not to be violated.

With international law things are different. Human rights come increasingly through treaty obligations and are often in force without a national discussion. With engineers increasingly engaged in multi-national transactions, they need to be mindful of their obligations to human rights. The laws are international in character. We need clearly and necessarily to understand our obligations. The legal argument for the importance of engineers’ knowing their human rights obligations has been advanced by Hoole 1. We leave it to readers to consult that paper for details.

Definition of Human Rights

There is really no formal definition of human rights except the meaning that derives from language – the rights of the individual human being. Its precise meaning has evolved over time.

Proceedings of the 2002 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2002, American Society for Engineering Education

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Hoole, S. R., & Hoole, D. (2002, June), A Curriculum With Human Rights In The Engineering Programme Paper presented at 2002 Annual Conference, Montreal, Canada. 10.18260/1-2--10889

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