This page summarizes research into the state of incorporating macroethics into engineering and computing education for undergraduate and graduate students. It includes summaries of 35 educational case studies.
The goals of this collaborative project are to evaluate the various ways in which macroethics is taught in engineering and computing to undergraduate and graduate students (both in and out of the classroom), and to determine the most effective methods that can then be adopted by others.
In order for STEM disciplines to reach their full potential to benefit society, students must be prepared to engage in broad considerations of the ethical issues that face the profession. Established codes of conduct describe standards for professional behavior, but these largely relate to individual actions associated with individual projects, so-called 'micro'-ethical considerations. But engineering and computing must also consider 'macro'-ethical challenges, which consider the societal and environmental implications of technology as the collective responsibility of the profession. Macroethics includes issues such as sustainability, poverty and underdevelopment, security and peace, social justice, bioethics, nanoscience, and social responsibility. The extent to which engineering and computing students graduate with an understanding of macroethical issues is unclear and in need of organization.
This research started with a large survey of engineering and computing faculty across the U.S. This was followed by interviews of selected faculty who are effectively using a diversity of methods to teach a range of macroethical issues. This resulted in a set of 35 educational case studies that can serve as models for others. More detailed outcomes assessments were conducted for 11 of those teaching settings, including student surveys, rubric assessment of student work, and in some cases observations, student focus groups, and alumni surveys. Best practices were identified and are being propagated via faculty training workshops and online resources.
Angela R. Bielefeldt
Department of Civil, Environmental, and Architectural Engineering
University of Colorado Boulder
School of Engineering
CYS Structural Engineers
National Science Foundation (NSF CCE-STEM 1540348, 1755390)
September 1, 2015 - August 31, 2020
Angela Bielefeldt (Angela.Bielefeldt@colorado.edu)