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Responsible Engineering Across Cultures: Investigating the Effects of Culture and Education on Ethical Reasoning and Dispositions of Engineering Students

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2022 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Minneapolis, MN

Publication Date

August 23, 2022

Start Date

June 26, 2022

End Date

June 29, 2022

Conference Session

NSF Grantees Poster Session

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Paper Authors


Qin Zhu Colorado School of Mines

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​Dr. Zhu is Assistant Professor of Ethics and Engineering Education in the Department of Humanities, Arts & Social Sciences and an affiliate faculty member in the Department of Engineering, Design & Society and the Robotics Graduate Program at the Colorado School of Mines. Dr. Zhu is Editor for International Perspectives at the Online Ethics Center for Engineering and Science, Associate Editor for Engineering Studies, Chair of American Society for Engineering Education's Division of Engineering Ethics, and Executive Committee Member of the International Society for Ethics Across the Curriculum. Dr. Zhu's research interests include the cultural foundations of engineering (ethics) education, global engineering education, and ethics and policy of computing technologies and robotics.

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Rockwell Clancy Colorado School of Mines

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Rockwell F. Clancy conducts research and teaches courses at the intersection of moral psychology, technology ethics, and Chinese philosophy. He explores how education and culture affect moral judgments, the causes of unethical behaviors, and what can be done to ensure more ethical behaviors regarding technology. Central to his work are insights from and methodologies associated with the psychological sciences and digital humanities.

Rockwell is a Research Assistant Professor in the Department of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences at the Colorado School of Mines and Guest Researcher in the Department of Values, Technology, and Innovation, at Delft University of Technology. In the Fall, he'll become a Research Scientist in the Department of Engineering Education at Virginia Tech. Before Mines Rockwell was a Lecturer at Delft, and previously an Associate Teaching Professor at the University of Michigan-Shanghai Jiao Tong University Joint Institute and Research Fellow in the Institute of Social Cognition and Decision-making, Shanghai Jiao Tong University. He completed his PhD iat Purdue University in 2012, and worked as a long-term educational to set up a course and write a corresponding textbook on global engineering ethics for a grant project at Purdue.

His research and teaching interests lie at the intersection of moral psychology, engineering and technology ethics, and Chinese philosophy. His papers have appeared in Nature Human Behaviour, Science and Engineering Ethics, International Journal of Ethics Education, Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology, New Directions in Children & Adolescent Psychology, Philosophy and Literature, the Journal of French and Francophone Philosophy, Modernity/modernism, Metapsychology Online Reviews, and the Journal of Philosophy.

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Andrea Gammon Delft University of Technology

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Ryan Thorpe

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Ethics has long been recognized as crucial to responsible engineering, but the increasingly global environments of contemporary engineering present challenges to effective engineering ethics training. Engineering is now more cross-cultural and international than ever before, resulting in potential disagreements about (in)appropriate courses of action. With the support from the National Science Foundation (NSF) Ethical and Responsible Research (ER2) program, a collaboration of investigators from Colorado School of Mines, University of Pittsburgh, Delft University of Technology, and Shanghai Jiao Tong University are exploring the effects of culture and education on ethical reasoning and moral intuitions among engineering students. This project will identify educational interventions with the greatest effects on ethical reasoning and moral intuitions, whether these effects differ among cultural and national groups, and if/how to modify these to develop more effective ethics training.

This paper offers an overview of the progress to date of this five-year mixed-method, quasi-experimental, longitudinal, cross-sectional research grant that aims to: (1) determine the effects of culture and foreign language on the ethical perspectives of first-year engineering students; (2) assess the relative effects of culture and education on these perspectives over four years; (3) use engineering ethics assessment tools across cultures and countries to examine their cross-cultural validity. Findings from this project will contribute to the development of engineering ethics that (1) effectively addresses the kinds of global challenges students, practitioners, programs, and organizations will encounter (2) is more inclusive, by identifying potentially marginalized perspectives (3) contributes to responsible graduate research, delivering training culturally responsive to the increasingly international student bodies of graduate STEM programs.

Zhu, Q., & Clancy, R., & Gammon, A., & Thorpe, R. (2022, August), Responsible Engineering Across Cultures: Investigating the Effects of Culture and Education on Ethical Reasoning and Dispositions of Engineering Students Paper presented at 2022 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Minneapolis, MN. 10.18260/1-2--42036

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