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The Role Of Environmental Justice Issues In Environmental Engineering Ethics

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2005 Annual Conference


Portland, Oregon

Publication Date

June 12, 2005

Start Date

June 12, 2005

End Date

June 15, 2005



Conference Session


Page Count


Page Numbers

10.1321.1 - 10.1321.8



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Paper Authors

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Roger Painter

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

The Role of Environmental Justice Issues in Environmental Engineering Ethics

Roger Painter Ph.D. P.E. and Lashun King Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering Tennessee State University Nashville, TN


The engineering accreditation agency, ABET regards engineering ethics as an important component of engineering education. ABET’s Criterion 3(f ) states that “Engineering Programs must demonstrate their graduates have an understanding of professional and ethical responsibilities.” Limitations on credit hours in engineering programs often preclude ethics being taught in a separate course and engineering faculty must include ethics topics in traditional engineering courses.

Teaching engineering ethics to environmental engineering students in the context of solid and hazardous waste management classes poses unique challenges and opportunities for instructors. The role of environmental engineers in designing and especially in selecting sites for solid and hazardous waste facilities necessitates an engineering ethics education that addresses environmental justice issues. The author has successfully used case studies and hypothetical scenarios to teach engineering ethics in solid and hazardous waste management classes. These studies address environmental justice issues and current regulatory/social conditions with an emphasis on how these issues impact environmental engineers.


The ethical and societal aspects of engineering practice are the subjects of several ABET 2000 outcomes. ABET 2000 criterion 3(f) states that "Engineering programs must demonstrate that their graduates have an understanding of professional and ethical responsibility." Criterion 3(h) states – "Engineering programs must demonstrate that their graduates have the broad education necessary to understand the impact of engineering solutions in a global and societal context." And, Criterion 4 requires that program graduates have design experience…that includes most of the following considerations: economic, environmental, sustainability, manufacturability, ethical, health and safety, social, and political"(Schimmel, 2000), (ABET, 1998). Notwithstanding ABET requirements, a recent survey indicates that 80% of engineering graduates attend schools that have no ethics-related course requirements. Even at schools that have courses with ethics-related content, the courses are usually in philosophy or religion and have no specific engineering ethics component (Stephan, 1998). The American Society for Engineering Education’s (ASEE) Statement on Engineering Ethics Education states:

“…To educate students to cope with ethical problems, the first task of the teacher is to make students aware of ethical problems and help them learn to recognize them. A

Painter, R. (2005, June), The Role Of Environmental Justice Issues In Environmental Engineering Ethics Paper presented at 2005 Annual Conference, Portland, Oregon. 10.18260/1-2--14263

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