Teaching engineering ethics and sustainability
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Byrne, Edmond P.
Engineering Education in Sustainable Development
Most professional engineering code’s of ethics require that engineers shall understand and promote the principles of sustainability and/or sustainable development and have due regard for their environmental, social and economic obligations. However the ethical obligations towards sustainability are incorporated into the teaching of engineering ethics in very few programmes. Typically engineering ethics is taught via relatively straightforward case studies whereby students are asked to identify with a particular individual agent acting alone and determine the correct or optimum course of action. Context, complexity and an interdisciplinary approach tend to lose out to objective reality in such scenarios. This paper describes the teaching of engineering ethics as part of an introductory first year undergraduate module. Students were presented with the real life wicked problem of matching future municipal water supply and demand in Dublin. They were asked to consider the published findings of an engineering consultancy group and then propose and present their own recommendations. This approach was employed to introduce a number of sustainability concepts in the context of professional ethical responsibility while developing their critiquing skills. The paper reflects on the outcomes of this exercise, including the students’ own assessments.
Engineering ethics , Sustainability , Engineering students
Byrne, E.P., 2010. Teaching engineering ethics and sustainability. In: Engineering Education for Sustainable Development 2010 Conference (EESD'10). Gothenburg, Sweden, 19-22 September 2010.