Postprint version. Published in Science and Engineering Ethics, Volume 12, Issue 2, April 1, 2006, pages 373-380. The definitive version can be found online at http://dx.doi.org/ 10.1007/s11948-006-0036-5.
Social responsibility is at the heart of the Engineer’s Creed embodied in the pledge that we will “dedicate [our] professional knowledge and skill to the advancement and betterment of human welfare...[placing] public welfare above all other considerations.” However, half century after the original creed was written, we find ourselves in a world with great technological advances and great global-scale technologically-enabled peril. These issues can be naturally integrated into the engineering curriculum in a way that enhances the development of the technological skill set. We have found that these global challenges create a natural opportunity to foster social responsibility within the engineering students whom we educate. In freshman through senior-level materials engineering courses, we used five guiding principles to shape several different classroom activities and assignments. Upon testing an initial cohort of 28 students had classroom experiences based on these five principles, we saw a shift in attitude: before the experience, 18% of the cohort viewed engineers as playing an active role in solving global problems; after the experiences, 79% recognized the engineer’s role in solving global-scale problems. In this paper, we present how global issues can be used to stimulate thinking for socially-responsible engineering solutions. We set forth five guiding principles that can foster the mindset for socially responsible actions along with examples of how these principles translate into classroom activities.
Materials Science and Engineering