July 26, 2021
July 26, 2021
July 19, 2022
Engineering education typically focuses on technical knowledge rather than ethical development. When ethics are incorporated into curriculum, the focus is usually on microethics concerning issues that arise in particular contexts and interactions between individuals, rather than macroethics that address broad societal concerns. The COVID-19 pandemic has presented a unique opportunity to assess macroethical understanding because unjust social, economic, and environmental systems have been brought to the forefront of the response. In this study, we aim to understand students’ awareness of unjust systems and the ethical responsibilities of engineers. At the beginning of the pandemic in the United States, in April 2020, we deployed a survey to undergraduate engineering students at two universities. We asked students to explain what they perceived to be the role of the engineering profession in response to the global COVID-19 pandemic. This paper focuses on the responses of undergraduate civil engineering students, totaling a sample size of 84 students across two universities. We used qualitative analyses (deductive and inductive coding) to categorize responses between “macroethics is present” and “macroethics is not present”, and we used quantitative analysis to test the two categories with sociodemographic factors for association. We show that there are statistically significant differences across student responses given certain sociodemographic factors. Responses from women focused more on macroethics as compared to responses from men. There was also a difference in responses between the universities surveyed, showing that institutional differences may impact students’ macroethical development. Potential implications from this study include recommendations on curricular content and identifying which student demographic groups would benefit most from intentional macroethical content in coursework. Additionally, increasing diversity and representation of women in engineering may impact the engineering industry’s focus on macroethics.
LaPatin, M. L., & Poleacovschi, C., & Padgett Walsh, K., & Feinstein, S. G., & Rutherford, C., & Nguyen, L. M., & Faust, K. M., & Verses, L. (2021, July), What Role do Civil Engineering Students See for their Profession in the COVID-19 Response? Paper presented at 2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual Conference. https://peer.asee.org/38048
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