Salt Lake City, Utah
June 23, 2018
June 23, 2018
July 27, 2018
The growing literature examining engineering students’ attitudes and learning about social responsibility (e.g. Canney and Bielefeldt 2015a, 2015b, 2015c; Rulifson et al. 2014; Rulifson and Bielefeldt 2017) focuses on the professional and personal dimensions of engineers’ responsibilities. Knowledge of how engineering students understand the contested and controversial field of corporate social responsibility (CSR), including its intersections with relation to those other domains of responsibility and the potential tensions that exist among them, is less well developed. This paper addresses that gap by analyzing the first year of research assessing the introduction of CSR-themed content into courses at three universities: Colorado School of Mines, Virginia Tech, and Marietta College.
We analyze pre- and post-module survey responses of over 600 students in targeted mining engineering, petroleum engineering and liberal arts courses, tracking changes in the students’ knowledge, attitudes and skills about CSR and its relation to engineering. Among the courses, we identify differences in the extent to which students: 1) improved in defining CSR and identifying historical trends in its development; 2) broadened their understanding of stakeholders to include oppositional groups; 3) believed that CSR would be essential to their careers as engineers; and 4) considered that training in CSR had enhanced their interest in engineering ethics more broadly. We offer preliminary thoughts on the main causes of those differences, including course content and context, instructor background, and length and depth of the CSR modules. Finally, we conclude by tying our research back to the existing work on engineering students’ attitudes and learning about social responsibility to consider the opportunities and pitfalls of integrating CSR into teaching and learning about social responsibility more generally.
Canney, N. and Bielefeldt, A. (2015a). “Differences in Engineering Students’ Views of Social Responsibility between Disciplines.” Journal of Professional Issues in Engineering Education and Practice 14 (4): 04015004.
Canney, N. and Bielefeldt, A. (2015b). “Gender differences in the social responsibility attitudes of engineering students and how they change over time.” Journal of Women and Minorities in Science and Engineering. http://dx.doi.org/10.1615/JWomenMinorScienEng.2015011109
Canney, N. and Bielefeldt, A. (2015c). A framework for the development of social responsibility in engineers. International Journal of Engineering Education, 31(1), 414–424.
Rulifson, G.A., Bielefeldt, A.R., Thomas, W. (2014). Understanding of Social Responsibility by First Year Engineering students: Ethical Foundations and Courses. Presented at the ASEE Conference and Expo, Indianapolis, IN.
Rulifson, G., & Bielefeldt, A. R. (2017). Fourth-Year Engineering Students’ Descriptions of the Importance of Improving Society Through their Engineering Careers. Presented at the 2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Columbus, OH.
Smith, J. M., & Smith, N. M., & Rulifson, G., & McClelland, C. J., & Battalora, L. A., & Sarver, E. A., & Kaunda , R. B. (2018, June), Student Learning About Engineering and Corporate Social Responsibility: A Comparison Across Engineering and Liberal Arts Courses Paper presented at 2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Salt Lake City, Utah. 10.18260/1-2--31007
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