This section focuses on methods for teaching engineers about the social and environmental impacts of the technology they create.
As Herbert Hoover wrote about the engineering profession, it is the privilege of engineers to elevate the standards of living and add to the comforts of life. But with the benefits of technology also come potential pitfalls and drawbacks. Technology has consequences-and not all of those consequences are good. Some bad consequences are the result of negligent, reckless or deceitful behavior and others are unforeseen and unintended. To what extent are engineers responsible for the impact of their creations? If so, what kinds of impacts should be considered? Technology can have impacts on future generations, on people in other remote countries, on animals, plants, or ecosystems. It can have dramatic affects on life-style, jobs, and privacy. Are engineers obligated to consider what might happen if their products are used for sinister reasons? How should consideration of these kinds of impacts affect the way engineers design their products, if at all?
This section focuses on methods for teaching engineers about the social and environmental impacts - both good and bad - of the technology they create. Emphasis is on helping students to take these impacts into consideration when designing technology. Incorporating ethics into design courses enables students to see first hand the ethical implications of design. Students should be taught to expand the questions they ask themselves when designing products or creating new technology so that they ask themselves not only the scientific questions, but social/environmental questions as well.
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Recommendations of other Web courses or materials on engineering ethics are most welcome. Cases not already on the web may be sent for inclusion in The Online Ethics Center. These will be subject to editing, if posted. Because the focus of this center is ethics (including policy questions addressed by engineers and scientists) we list only courses in engineering and science ethics. Although courses in the History of Technology or on Technology and Society are not included, we welcome historical cases that raise ethical issues for engineers and scientists.