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Human Rights as a Lens for Engineering Ethics?

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2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Tampa, Florida

Publication Date

June 15, 2019

Start Date

June 15, 2019

End Date

October 19, 2019

Conference Session

Technological and Engineering Literacy/Philosophy of Engineering Division Technical Session 2

Tagged Division

Technological and Engineering Literacy/Philosophy of 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). She has served as the Associate Chair for Undergraduate Education in the CEAE Department, as well as the ABET assessment coordinator. Professor Bielefeldt was also 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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This paper illustrates how the United Nations ‘Universal Declaration of Human Rights’ can be used to frame engineering ethics discussions. Examples are provided for how engineering ethics relates to the rights to: nondiscrimination, life and security of persons, privacy, property ownership, work, and a basic standard of living. The recent Statement on Scientific Freedom and Responsibility from the American Association of the Advancement of Science was rooted in the right to science and recognizes the important link between freedom and responsibility. This philosophy includes attention to the broader impacts of research activities and argues against higher education tenure and promotion criteria that preference self-serving academic outcomes over real-world benefits and engagement. The practices of engineering education itself are probed in relation to Article 26 on the right to education, in terms of accessibility and promoting peace. The paper provides many ways in which engineering ethics can be examined through the lens of universal human rights. This framework may resonate with students interested in care and helping people and society. Educators may wish to examine whether a human rights lens is relevant to their teaching.

Bielefeldt, A. R. (2019, June), Human Rights as a Lens for Engineering Ethics? Paper presented at 2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Tampa, Florida. 10.18260/1-2--32905

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