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Orienting Engineering Ethics in terms of China: Curricula Shortcomings and Case Studies on China

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2014 ASEE International Forum


Indianapolis, Indiana

Publication Date

June 14, 2014

Start Date

June 14, 2014

End Date

June 14, 2014

Conference Session

Track 1 - Session 2

Tagged Topic

Curriculum and Lab Development

Page Count


Page Numbers

20.28.1 - 20.28.7



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Paper Authors


Rockwell Franklin Clancy III The University of Michigan-Shanghai Jiao Tong Joint Institute, Shanghai Jiao Tong University

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Rockwell F. Clancy is a lecturer at the University of Michigan-Shanghai Jiao Tong Joint Institute, Shanghai Jiao Tong University. His research and teaching interests include applied ethics, political philosophy, and technology studies. Rockwell completed his PhD at Purdue University, West Lafayette, MA at the Katholieke Universiteit, Leuven, Belgium, and BA at Fordham University, New York.

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Guangyu Zhang Shanghai Jiao Tong University

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Guangyu Zhang is a BA student at the University of Michigan-Shanghai Jiao Tong Joint Institute, Shanghai Jiao Tong University. She majors in electrical and computer engineering. Guangyu's research interests include philosophy and technology studies.

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Orienting Engineering Ethics in China: The West-East PipelineThis paper discusses an educational program in which we are currently engaged, entitled“Orienting Engineering Ethics in terms of Asia and Asian Values: Its Significance Basedon Three Case Studies.” Divided into two parts, in the first part our paper addresses themotivations and objectives of this project. In the second part, it briefly describes a part ofit.Public safety has become of increasing concern in present-day China. Insofar asengineering is involved in all facets of modern life, here engineers play a significant role:To insure public safety, it is important that engineers in China act ethically. At present, anintroduction to engineering ethics is not a central feature of engineering curriculathroughout China.We take the perspective that the principles of engineering ethics should be understood ascross-cultural, but that socially specific values and circumstances contribute to decisionsmade in engineering contexts. Our project consists in developing case studies onengineering ethics, orienting these in terms of China and Chinese values, highlightingspecific circumstances and values operative in engineering contexts in present-day China.By developing case studies related to China specifically, we hope to not only improvecurrent engineering curricula offered in China, but also offer a better understanding ofthese issues to parties engaged with China.Towards this end, our second case study focuses on the building of the Western portionof West-East gas pipeline, exploring ethical issues related to risk management and energyeconomics in this project. Our analysis focuses on potential benefits and risks in buildingthe West-East gas pipeline, for example, strengthening local economies while at the sametime increasing the risks of soil contamination. Given China’s spotty track record inbuilding programs, here we focus on regulatory guidelines put in place to enhance theeconomic benefits of this project and reduce the probability of accidents.To do so, we focus on two intertwined categories: material considerations involved inbuilding the pipeline and parties involved in and affected by this project. Importantmaterial considerations include, for example, China’s abundance of coal but (relative)lack of clean-burning fossil fuels and the proposed design of the pipeline itself. Partiesinvolved in and affected by this include, for example, local, provincial, and national levelgovernment agencies, experts within the field of engineering, national and internationalengineering firms involved in this project, and rural and urban residents. Focusing on theinterplay between the abovementioned material considerations and competing interests,our analysis attempts isolate and take a balanced perspective regarding the ethicalramifications of these considerations.

Clancy, R. F., & Zhang, G. (2014, June), Orienting Engineering Ethics in terms of China: Curricula Shortcomings and Case Studies on China Paper presented at 2014 ASEE International Forum, Indianapolis, Indiana. 10.18260/1-2--17191

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