Introducing Survival Ethics into Engineering Education and Practice
- 372 Downloads
Given the possibilities of synthetic biology, weapons of mass destruction and global climate change, humans may achieve the capacity globally to alter life. This crisis calls for an ethics that furnishes effective motives to take global action necessary for survival. We propose a research program for understanding why ethical principles change across time and culture. We also propose provisional motives and methods for reaching global consensus on engineering field ethics. Current interdisciplinary research in ethics, psychology, neuroscience and evolutionary theory grounds these proposals. Experimental ethics, the application of scientific principles to ethical studies, provides a model for developing policies to advance solutions. A growing literature proposes evolutionary explanations for moral development. Connecting these approaches necessitates an experimental or scientific ethics that deliberately examines theories of morality for reliability. To illustrate how such an approach works, we cover three areas. The first section analyzes cross-cultural ethical systems in light of evolutionary theory. While such research is in its early stages, its assumptions entail consequences for engineering education. The second section discusses Howard University and University of Puerto Rico/Mayagüez (UPRM) courses that bring ethicists together with scientists and engineers to unite ethical theory and practice. We include a syllabus for engineering and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) ethics courses and a checklist model for translating educational theory and practice into community action. The model is based on aviation, medicine and engineering practice. The third and concluding section illustrates Howard University and UPRM efforts to translate engineering educational theory into community action. Multidisciplinary teams of engineering students and instructors take their expertise from the classroom to global communities to examine further the ethicality of prospective technologies and the decision-making processes that lead to them.
KeywordsPhilosophy of engineering Survival ethics Checklist model Cross-cultural ethics Multidisciplinary education Appropriate technology
This research was supported in part by the following: U.S. Department of Education, Fund for the Improvement of Post Secondary Education, P116N060032: Ethical and Public Policy Issues in the Sciences; National Science Foundation (NSF), PHY 1033028 MPS: Graduate Research and Education for Appropriate Technology; NSF DUE 9952448 CCLI: Environmental Studies Curriculum Development; NSF DBI 0405151 UMEB: Howard University Environmental Biology Scholars; NSF DBI 9423947 REU: Ecological Research in the Southwestern U.S. and its Relevance to Environmental Policy.
- American Association for Laboratory Animal Science. (2011). http://www.iacuc.org. Accessed October 23, 2011.
- Appiah, A. (2008). Experiments in ethics. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
- Axelrod, R. (2006). The evolution of cooperation. New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar
- Barefoot College, Tilonia, Rajasthan, India, http://barefootcollege.org/. Accessed June 20, 2011.
- Blackburn, S. (1993). Essays in quasi-realism. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
- Chan, W. (1963). A source book in Chinese philosophy. Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
- Chomsky, N. (2000). On nature and language. New York: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
- Diamond, J. (1999). Guns, germs and steel: The fates of human societies. NY: W.W. Norton.Google Scholar
- Diop, C. (1991). Civilization or barbarism, Y. M. Ngemi (Trans.). Chicago: Lawrence Hill.Google Scholar
- Doorn, N., & van de Poel, I. (2011). Editor’s overview: Moral responsibility in technology and engineering. Science and Engineering Ethics, doi: 10.1007/s11948-011-9285-z .
- Dzidzeniyo, V., Hansen, E., Fortunak, J., Tharakan, J., & Trimble, J. (Eds.) (2010). Proceedings of the 4th international conference on appropriate technology. Kumasi, Ghana: Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology.Google Scholar
- Eisenbarth, S., & Van Treuren, K. (2004). Sustainable and responsible design from a Christian worldview. Science and Engineering Ethics, 10(4), 23–429.Google Scholar
- European Commission on Community Research, “Science shops—Knowledge for the community,” http://ec.europa.eu/research/science-society/pdf/science_shop_en.pdf. Accessed June 19, 2011.
- Gawande, A. (2009). The checklist manifesto: How to get things right. NY: Metropolitan.Google Scholar
- Graduate Education for Research and Appropriate Technology, http://www.nsf.gov/awardsearch/showAward.do?AwardNumber=1033028. Accessed October 26, 2011.
- Graedel, T., & Allenby, B. (1995). Industrial ecology. Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice Hall.Google Scholar
- Harris, S. (2010). The moral landscape: How science can determine human values. New York: Press.Google Scholar
- Hauser, M. (2006). Moral minds: How nature designed our universal sense of right and wrong. New York: Harper Collins.Google Scholar
- Hornung, E. (1971/1982). Conceptions of god in ancient Egypt: The one and the many. J. Baines (Trans.). Ithaca, New York: Cornell University Press.Google Scholar
- International Network on Appropriate Technology (INAT), http://www.appropriatetech.net. Accessed June 20, 2011.
- Joyce, R. (2006). The evolution of morality. Cambridge: MIT Press.Google Scholar
- Kabo, J., & Baillie, C. (2009). Seeing through the lens of social justice: A threshold for engineering. Science and Engineering Ethics, 34(4), 317–325.Google Scholar
- Kadoda, G. (2009). Habboba (grandmothers’) new knowledge: Perspectives from the barefoot solar engineers project in the Nuba Mountains of Sudan. 4th WAAD (Women in Africa and the African Diaspora) International Conference, Abuja, Nigeria, August 3-8.Google Scholar
- Kaiser, J. (2010). Oversight but no strict rules for synthetic biology. Science, 26, 1166.Google Scholar
- Kerala Sastra Sahitya Parishad, http://www.kssp.in/. Accessed June 19, 2011.
- Kintisch, E. (2010). Scientists grapple with ‘completely out of hand’ attacks on climate science. Science, 26, 1070.Google Scholar
- Locke, A. (1991). The philosophy of Alain Locke: Harlem renaissance and beyond. Philadelphia: Temple University Press.Google Scholar
- Mackie, J. (1977). Ethics: Inventing right and wrong. NY: Penguin.Google Scholar
- McDonough, W., & Braungart, M. (2002). Cradle to cradle: Remaking the way we make things. New York: North Point Press.Google Scholar
- Mhlanga, S., & Trimble, J. (2004). Proceedings of the 1st international conference on appropriate technology. Bulawayo, Zimbabwe: Ministry of Science and Technology.Google Scholar
- Muchabayiwa, B, Trimble, J., & Dube, S. (Eds.) (2006). Proceedings of the 2nd international conference on appropriate technology. Bulawayo, Zimbabwe: Ministry of Science and Technology.Google Scholar
- National Academy of Engineering of the National Academies. (2004). The engineer of 2020: Visions of Engineering in the New Century. Washington, D.C.: The National Academies Press.Google Scholar
- O’Brien, C. (1998). Education for sustainable community development: Barefoot college, Tilonia, India. Dissertation, McGill University.Google Scholar
- Pinker, S. (2011). The better angels of our nature: Why violence has declined. New York: Viking Press.Google Scholar
- Provonost, P., & Vohr, E. (2010). Safe patients, smart hospitals: How one doctor’s checklist can help us change healthcare from the inside out. NY: Hudson Street Press.Google Scholar
- Radhakrishnan, R., & Moore, C. (1967). A source book in Indian philosophy. Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
- Rawls, J. (1971). A theory of justice. Cambridge: Belknap Press.Google Scholar
- Ridley, M. (1998). The origins of virtue: Human instincts and the evolution of cooperation. New York: Penguin Books.Google Scholar
- Rybczynski, W. (1980). Paper heroes: A review of appropriate technology. NY: Anchor/Doubleday.Google Scholar
- Schumaker, E. (1989). Small is beautiful. NY: Harper Perennial.Google Scholar
- Staub, E. (1989). The roots of evil: The origins of genocide and other group violence. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
- Tharakan, J. (2011). Institutionalizing a student-centered community-based service learning engineering education experience. In Proceedings of the international engineering and technology education conference (IETEC 2011), Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, January.Google Scholar
- Tharakan, J., & Trimble, J. (Eds.) (2008). Proceedings of the 3rd international conference on appropriate technology. Kigali, Rwanda: Ministry of Science and Technology.Google Scholar
- Tharakan, J., Castro, M., Trimble, J., Schwartzman, D., Stephenson, B., Broome, T., et al. (2006). Diversifying engineering education: A seminar course on the ethics and the philosophy of appropriate technology. Global Journal of Engineering Education, 9(2), 111–119.Google Scholar
- Tharakan, J., Mitchell, M., Moore, J., & Jenkins, G. (2008). Design of a combined solar energy system for a remote flux tower and a rural community. In J. Tharakan, & J. Trimble (Eds.), Proceedings of the 3rd international conference on appropriate technology (pp. 51–58). Kigali, Rwanda: Ministry of Science and Technology.Google Scholar
- Turner, T. (2001). Controlling pilot error: Checklists and compliance. NY: McGraw-Hill Professional.Google Scholar
- UNESCO Social and Human Sciences, Ethics of Science and Technology Program, http://www.unesco.org/new/en/social-and-human-sciences/themes/ethics-of-science-and-technology/science-and-technology/. Accessed June 19, 2011.
- United Nations. (1948). Universal Declaration of Human Rights. http://www.un.org/en/documents/udhr/index.shtml, Accessed June 21, 2011.
- Verharen, C. (2006). Sage philosophy, rationality and science: The case of Ethiopia. Ethiopian Journal of the Social Sciences and Humanities, 4(2), 13–32.Google Scholar
- Verharen, C. (2008a). Comparing ancient Egyptian and Oromo Philosophy. Journal of Oromo Studies, 15(2), 1–31.Google Scholar
- Verharen, C. (2008b). Survival ethics: Consequences for appropriate technology. In J. Tharakan, & J. Trimble (Eds.), Proceedings of the 3rd international conference on appropriate technology (pp. 268–274). Kigali, Rwanda: Ministry of Science and Technology.Google Scholar
- Verharen, C., & Tharakan, J. (2010). Barefoot ethics: Social justice through an appropriate technology checklist. In Dzidzeniyo, V., Hansen, E., Fortunak, J., Tharakan, J., & Trimble, J. (Eds.), Proceedings of the 4th international conference on appropriate technology (pp. 36–42). Kumasi, Ghana: Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology.Google Scholar