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Tools to Craft Ethical Behavior

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2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Vancouver, BC

Publication Date

June 26, 2011

Start Date

June 26, 2011

End Date

June 29, 2011



Conference Session

Engineering Ethics Issues Part II

Tagged Division

Engineering Ethics

Page Count


Page Numbers

22.1534.1 - 22.1534.10



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Paper Authors


Martin S. High Oklahoma State University

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Marty High is an Associate Professor of Chemical Engineering at Oklahoma State University. His academic interests include teaching in all areas and at all levels of chemical engineering with a focus on instruction in thermodynamics and mass transfer. His research interests are in the areas of mass transfer in polymeric systems, corrosion modeling, equation of state development and refinery catalysis. Marty also writes in the area of sustainability and on the intersection of law, science and society. He received his engineering education at Penn State (B.S., M.S., and Ph.D.) and earned his law degree (J.D.) from the University of Tulsa.

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Steve Harrist Oklahoma State University

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Steve Harrist is Associate Professor in the School of Applied Health and Educational Psychology at Oklahoma State University.

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Scott D. Gelfand Oklahoma State University, Department of Philosophy

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Scott Gelfand is Director of the OSU Ethics Center and an Associate Professor of Philosophy. Scott specializes in theoretical ethics, applied ethics, and moral psychology.

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Tools to Craft Ethical Behavior Engineering educators provide students a wide variety of tools and skills: mathematics,chemistry, physics, computer programming, and discipline specific knowledge. All of thesetools are designed to be multipurpose and adaptable to whatever problem the student will face inprofessional life. However, one area in which our students tend to be underprepared and tend tobe lacking in analogous “tools” to solve problems is in ethics. Ethics is typically taught byshowing students case study after case study that exemplify unethical behavior. However, this isakin to teaching aerospace students how to design aircraft by touring airplane crash sites. Standard ethics classes neglect the topic of moral psychology. Specifically, these classesdo not teach students why people act unethically, and they do not provide students with strategiesthat they can use in order to increase the likelihood that they will act in accord with their ownethical commitments and/or the ethical codes of their professions. We are designing a class,which will be electronically delivered and can stand alone as a seminar or be added to thecurriculum of traditional Research Ethics classes, will expose students to video clips containingre-enactments of published empirical studies that demonstrate why people act unethically. Aftera discussion of each clip, each individual student will be guided through a two-part exercise. Thefirst part, developing a Personal Inventory Report, will help the student engage in reflection inorder to determine what sorts of situations the student might find ethically challenging. Thestudent will then develop a personal plan (Adaptive-Strategies Report) addressing what strategiesthey might use in order to increase the likelihood that they will act ethically in challengingsituations (that is, the situations arrived at while developing the Personal Inventory Report). TheAdaptive Strategies Report will help the student: 1) recognize when an ethically challengingsituation; and 2) act ethically in ethically challenging situations (that is, apply the strategiesdeveloped for the Adaptive-Strategies Report). The products of this exercise – PersonalInventory Report and Adaptive-Strategies Report – will be provide to the student, and they canbe used throughout the student’s career, especially when in a new professional situation.

High, M. S., & Harrist, S., & Gelfand, S. D. (2011, June), Tools to Craft Ethical Behavior Paper presented at 2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Vancouver, BC. 10.18260/1-2--18601

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