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Peace, Conflict and Sustainability: Addressing Global and Ethical Issues in Engineering Education

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2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Seattle, Washington

Publication Date

June 14, 2015

Start Date

June 14, 2015

End Date

June 17, 2015





Conference Session

Peace, Conflict, and Sustainability: Addressing Global and Ethical Issues in Engineering Education

Tagged Divisions

Engineering Ethics and Engineering and Public Policy

Tagged Topic


Page Count


Page Numbers

26.1216.1 - 26.1216.9



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Paper Authors


Robert J Muscat Global Peace Services USA

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Robert J. Muscat is an economist specializing in problems of conflict in developing countries. He was formerly Chief Economist of the US Agency for International Development, and has consulted for the World Bank and UN agencies. He has authored books and articles on Thailand, development aid and conflict, aid effectiveness, malnutrition, and other subjects.He received his PhD in economics from Columbia University. He is currently an independent scholar, living in Sarasota, FL.

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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 serves as the Associate Chair for Undergraduate Education in the CEAE Department, as well 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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Donna M Riley Virginia Tech

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Donna Riley is Professor of Engineering Education at Virginia Tech.

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Rebecca A Bates Minnesota State University, Mankato

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Rebecca A. Bates received the Ph.D. degree in electrical engineering from the University of Washington in 2004. She also received the M.T.S. degree from Harvard Divinity School in 1993. She is currently Professor and Chair of the Department of Integrated Engineering program at Minnesota State University, Mankato, home of the Iron Range and Twin Cities Engineering programs.

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Peace, Conflict and Sustainability: Addressing Global and Ethical Issues in Engineering EducationGlobally, engineers play a central role in major infrastructure and construction projects,including making decisions related to sustainability. Particularly in developing countries, thismay thrust them into violent conflict situations instigated by disputed claims over scarceresources and/or by unequal distribution of benefits and costs. Depending on how engineersapproach the identification, design and implementation of projects, they can aggravateunderlying tensions among stakeholders or they can ameliorate or even prevent violent conflict.The choice of approach in different circumstances may well create new divisions betweenwinners and losers. Engineers have a responsibility to raise their awareness of the potentialeffects of their projects, both globally and locally, especially in situations of serious social andpolitical contention, and to explore alternative designs or engineering solutions, and methods ofimplementation, that may ameliorate rather than exacerbate tensions.Global climate change is emerging as a source of major engineering and socioeconomicchallenges to the US and other countries. Engineering solutions will be central components forissues like emissions reduction, flood control, migration and resettlement of exposedpopulations, coastal destruction, alternative energy technologies, resistance of structures toweather extremes, and sustainable housing needs. Inherent in many of these problems is a highpotential for social and political conflict. Engineers will also need to learn the skills of multi-disciplinary analysis and effective dialogue with many affected stakeholders if their projects areto be politically viable and achieve their technical purposes.Currently, educational options include a growing range of study abroad, service learning andembedded global issues and sustainability awareness programs. These are coupled withprograms like Engineers Without Borders and internship opportunities for engineers at non-governmental organizations that work in developing countries. While critics have longsuggested integration of writing and ethics into engineering curricula, incorporation ofsustainability and global issues is a recent call. This has the potential to engage students infinding ways to connect their engineering learning with their personal values and motivation tobe part of a service profession.This paper will support a panel discussion that includes experts in public policy, ethics,sustainability, and service learning as well as an expert from a non-profit NGO that addressesissues of global conflict. Panelist biographies, position statements, sample case studies and panelquestions for discussion will be presented. In addition, resources will be provided for studentsand faculty to learn more about related issues and to become more involved with this aspect ofengineering professionalism.

Muscat, R. J., & Bielefeldt, A. R., & Riley, D. M., & Bates, R. A. (2015, June), Peace, Conflict and Sustainability: Addressing Global and Ethical Issues in Engineering Education Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.24553

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