June 28, 1998
June 28, 1998
July 1, 1998
3.264.1 - 3.264.10
Ethics Education for the Third Millennium
Marilyn A. Dyrud Oregon Institute of Technology
A variety of technological disasters in the 1980s, including Challenger, Bhopal, and Chernobyl, has prompted a renewed interest in teaching engineering ethics at the college level. This paper offers a discussion of need, subject matter, methodology, and resources to enable technical instructors to integrate ethical issues into their courses without sacrificing technical content.
Higher education in America, notes Steven McNeel, “was originally a whole-person education with emphases. . .[on] four components of morality: moral sensitivity, moral judgment, moral motivation, and moral character.” 6 But as knowledge became specialized and fragmented, due to technological development, the practice of teaching morality as the primary focus of education waned.
The destruction of the space shuttle Challenger in 1986, however, spawned a renewed interest in ethics education, particularly among the technical professions. Although other technological disasters, such as Bhopal, resulted in much higher loss of life, the large amount of publicity focused on Challenger brought to the forefront of public awareness a number of ethical issues previously unexplored in open forums: decision-making processes, management/technical staff confrontations, communication between organizational levels and between organizations, and basic engineering design. This paper explores ethics education for technical students, including need, appropriate subject matter, methodology, and resources.
Competency in technical matters is, of course, essential for our engineering and technology graduates. Of increasing importance, however, are the “soft” skills, which include areas such as communications, interpersonal relations, and the social sciences. Indeed, some maintain that a firm grounding in these skills is as important in the workplace as technical facility. Former ASEE President Eleanor Baum, for example, has noted, “The area in which industry would like to see improvement is in the so-called soft skills. . .communication skills, team work, economic understanding, societal context, and global awareness.” The “ultimate benefit,” she explains, will be “engineers who will better satisfy the needs of the workplace and whose best humanitarian instincts will prevail.” 1
Boeing corporate manager of college and university relations, Al Hametner, similarly stated
Dyrud, M. (1998, June), Ethics Education For The Third Millennium Paper presented at 1998 Annual Conference, Seattle, Washington. https://peer.asee.org/7105
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