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Teaching engineering ethics in the United States

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1 Author(s)
Lynch, W.T. ; Dept. of Sci. & Technol. Studies, Cornell Univ., Ithaca, NY, USA

The present academic discipline of engineering ethics originated in the mid-1970s when engineering and philosophy professors began to consider ethical problems facing engineers. In addition to the role played by these two primary disciplines, disciplines such as law, history, behavior and management sciences, and religious studies shaped the emerging field, as did parallel developments in other applied ethics fields treating professional responsibility, such as medical, legal, and business ethics. Courses in engineering ethics were developed at a number of universities. In addition to stand-alone courses in engineering ethics, many universities incorporated ethical components into technical or nontechnical courses. The article summarizes significant developments at a number of top engineering schools in the US, spurred in part by National Science Foundation funding. In addition, a spring 1997 search of the World Wide Web uncovered developments at a wide range of universities and colleges. Not all schools provide information on the Web. In addition, information on the Web is constantly changing and Web searches are imperfect. Nevertheless, the information provided here gives a good picture of the kinds of initiatives in engineering ethics pedagogy that now exist.

Published in:

Technology and Society Magazine, IEEE  (Volume:16 ,  Issue: 4 )