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Challenges and Opportunities: Faculty Views on the State of Macroethical Education in Engineering

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Conference

2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition

Location

Columbus, Ohio

Publication Date

June 24, 2017

Start Date

June 24, 2017

End Date

June 28, 2017

Conference Session

Faculty Views of Ethics

Tagged Division

Engineering Ethics

Page Count

12

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/28022

Download Count

56

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Paper Authors

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Nathan E. Canney Seattle University

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Dr. Canney teaches civil engineering at Seattle University. His research focuses on engineering education, specifically the development of social responsibility in engineering students. Other areas of interest include ethics, service learning, and sustainability education. Dr. Canney received bachelors degrees in Civil Engineering and Mathematics from Seattle University, a masters in Civil Engineering from Stanford University with an emphasis on structural engineering, and a PhD in Civil Engineering from the University of Colorado Boulder.

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Madeline Polmear

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Madeline Polmear is a PhD student and research assistant in the Department of Civil, Environmental, and Architectural Engineering, College of Engineering and Applied Science at the University of Colorado, Boulder. She is interested in studying how ethics are infused into curricular and co-curricular settings in engineering.

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Angela R. Bielefeldt University of Colorado, Boulder

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Angela Bielefeldt is a professor at the University of Colorado Boulder in the Department of Civil, Environmental, and Architectural Engineering (CEAE), where she serves as the ABET assessment coordinator. Professor Bielefeldt is the faculty director of the Sustainable By Design Residential Academic Program, a living-learning community where interdisciplinary students learn about and practice sustainability. Bielefeldt is also a licensed P.E. Professor Bielefeldt's research interests in engineering education include service-learning, sustainable engineering, social responsibility, ethics, and diversity.

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Daniel Knight University of Colorado, Boulder

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Daniel W. Knight is the Program Assessment and Research Associate at Design Center (DC) Colorado in CU’s Department of Mechanical Engineering at the College of Engineering and Applied Science. He holds a B.A. in psychology from Louisiana State University, an M.S. degree in industrial/organizational psychology and a Ph.D. degree in education, both from the University of Tennessee. Dr. Knight’s research interests are in the areas of retention, program evaluation and teamwork practices in engineering education. His current duties include assessment, team development and education research for DC Colorado's hands-on initiatives.

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Christopher Swan Tufts University Orcid 16x16 orcid.org/0000-0001-5670-8938

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Chris Swan is an associate professor in the Civil and Environmental Engineering department at Tufts University. He has additional appointments in the Jonathan M. Tisch College of Citizenship and Public Service and Center for Engineering Education and Outreach at Tufts. His current engineering education research interests focus on learning through service-based projects, ethics, and the entrepreneurial mindset in engineering education. He also researches the development of reuse strategies for waste materials.

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Elizabeth Simon Seattle University Orcid 16x16 orcid.org/0000-0002-5341-4165

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Elizabeth Simon is a civil engineering student at Seattle University, a Jesuit institution located Seattle, Washington. She moved to Seattle from Chicago, Illinois where she attended Saint Ignatius College Prep. Previously, Elizabeth spent a year at Loyola University Chicago's John Felice Rome Center, located in Rome, Italy, where she studied art history and obtained a minor in the subject.

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Abstract

The meaningful inclusion of ethics into engineering education often seems to be a challenge in programs which are already packed full of technical content. Most often the ways in which ethics are included into engineering education relates to microethical issues such as ethical codes or personal professional conduct in the office. Macroethical topics, such as the profession’s ethical obligations around climate change or sustainability, are less common and the ways in which macroethics are included in engineering courses has not been well studied.

Two surveys were developed to explore the ways in which faculty teach students about macroethical issues; one focused on curricular settings and the other on co-curricular settings. Participants were asked to describe general topics that they covered in their respective settings and then to describe in detail the ways in which they include the societal impacts of engineering in a single course or co-curricular activity including specific topics, educational approaches and assessment tools. At the end of the survey, participants were asked in a free-response question to “Please share your thoughts about the education of engineering students regarding broader impacts and ethical issues.” This paper focuses on faculty response to this question.

The surveys were distributed nationally to faculty who teach engineering or mentor engineering related co-curricular activities; combined, 1462 responses were received. Out of these, 406 people wrote in a response to the open-ended question. These responses were coded using emergent, thematic coding. The analysis of these codes highlighted four main themes: challenges, goals/opportunities, topics, and current practices. Examples of challenges that were discussed include faculty having a limited knowledge or training about how to teach ethics or that ethics education is currently taught in ways that are too black and white and more nuanced topics should be included. Some goals or opportunities that faculty talked about indicate that students should receive a broader exposure to the societal impacts of engineering and that students should learn how to identify and negotiate work related ethical dilemmas. Examples of topics that were discussed include justice and community development contexts. Finally, in talking about current practices, some faculty focused on engineering service opportunities or experiential learning as effective approaches. In the final paper, frequency distributions of codes, statistical differences by demographic, and inter-rater reliability will be presented and discussed further.

Canney, N. E., & Polmear, M., & Bielefeldt, A. R., & Knight, D., & Swan, C., & Simon, E. (2017, June), Challenges and Opportunities: Faculty Views on the State of Macroethical Education in Engineering Paper presented at 2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Columbus, Ohio. https://peer.asee.org/28022

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2017 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015