Science and Engineering Ethics

, Volume 19, Issue 3, pp 1341–1355 | Cite as

Socio-ethical Education in Nanotechnology Engineering Programmes: A Case Study in Malaysia

  • Balamuralithara Balakrishnan
  • Pek Hoon Er
  • Punita Visvanathan
Review Paper


The unique properties of nanotechnology have made nanotechnology education and its related subjects increasingly important not only for students but for mankind at large. This particular technology brings educators to work together to prepare and produce competent engineers and scientists for this field. One of the key challenges in nanotechnology engineering is to produce graduate students who are not only competent in technical knowledge but possess the necessary attitude and awareness toward the social and ethical issues related to nanotechnology. In this paper, a research model has been developed to assess Malaysian nanotechnology engineering students’ attitudes and whether their perspectives have attained the necesary objectives of ethical education throughout their programme of study. The findings from this investigation show that socio ethical education has a strong influence on the students’ knowledge, skills and attitudes pertaining to socio ethical issues related to nanotechnology.


Socio ethical education Nanotechnology engineering Students’ attitudes Engineering ethics 


  1. ABET. (2007). Criteria for accrediting engineering programs. Baltimore, MD: ABET, Inc. Retrieved from
  2. Barakat, N., & Jiao, H. (2010). Proposed strategies for teaching ethics of nanotechnology. Nanoethics Journal,. doi: 10.1007/s11569-010-0100-0.Google Scholar
  3. Barakat, N. & Jiao, H. (2011). Development and Implementation of a comprehensive nanotechnology fundamentals lab for Engineering students. Proceedings of the ASEE annual conference and exposition, Vancouver, BC, Canada, 2011.Google Scholar
  4. Berne, R. W., & Schummer, J. (2005). Teaching societal and ethical implications of nanotechnology to engineering students through science fiction. Bulletin of Science, Technology & Society, 25, 459–468.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Buentello, F. S., Persad, D. L., Court, E. B., Martin, D. K., Daar, A. S., & Singer, P. A. (2005). Nanotechnology and the developing world. pLos medicine, 2(5), 383–386.Google Scholar
  6. Engineering Accreditation Council Malaysia. (2007).
  7. Graber, G. C., & Pionke, C. D. (2006). A team-taught interdisciplinary approach to engineering ethics. Science and Engineering Ethics, 12(2), 313–320.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Hashim, U., Nadia, E., & Shahrir, S. (2009). Nanotechnology development in Malaysia: Current status and implementation strategy. International Journal of Nanoelectronics and Materials, 2(1), 119–134.Google Scholar
  9. Hayden, N. J., Rizzo, D. M., Dewoolkar, M. M., Oka, L., & Neumann, M. (2010). Incorporating systems thinking and sustainability within civil and environmental engineering curricula at UVM. Paper presented at the American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE) St. Lawrence Section Meeting. Rochester, NY: Rochester Institute of Technology.Google Scholar
  10. Hoover, E., Brown, P., Averick, M., Kane, A., & Hurt, R. (2009). Teaching small and thinking large: Effects of including social and ethical implications in an interdisciplinary nanotechnology course. Journal of Nano Education, 1(1), 86–95.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. IZON. (2011).
  12. Lathem, S. A., Neumann, M. D., & Hayden, N. (2011). The socially responsible engineer: Assessing student attitudes of roles and responsibilities. Journal of Engineering Education, 100(3), 444–474.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Newberry, B. (2004). The dilemma of ethics in engineering education. Science and Engineering Ethics, 10(2), 343–351.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Nikulainen, T., & Palmberg, C. (2010). Transferring science-based technologies to industry—Does nanotechnology make a difference? Technovation, 30, 3–11.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Olmstead M. & Bassett D. (2009). Teaching Nanoethics to Graduate Students. Symposium on Ethics in Graduate Education in Nanotechnology. Available at: research/papers/2009_ NanoEthicsSeminar_preprint.pdf.
  16. Pimple, K. D. (2002). Six domains of research ethics. Science and Engineering Ethics, 8(2), 191–234.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Roco, M. C. (2002). Nanotechnology—A frontier for engineering education. International Journal of Engineering Education: Special Issue on Nanotechnology, 18(5), 1–18.Google Scholar
  18. Roco, M. C., & Bainbridge, W. S. (2005). Societal implications of nanoscience and nanotechnology: Maximizing human benefit. Journal of Nanoparticle Research, 7, 1–13.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Rugarcia, A., Felder, R. M., Woods, D. R., & Stice, J. E. (2000). The future of engineering education: A vision for a new century. Chemical Engineering Education, 34(1), 16–25.Google Scholar
  20. Schuurbiers, D., Sleenhoff, S., Jacobs, J. F., & Osseweijer, P. (2009). Multidisciplinary engagement with nano ethics through education—Nanobio-RAISE advanced courses as a case study and model. Nanoethics, 3, 197–211.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Steven, C., Currall, E. B., King, N. L., Mandera, J., & Turner, S. (2006). What drives public acceptance of nanotechnology? Nature Nanotechnology, 1(1), 153–158.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Sweeney, A. E., Seal, S., & Vaidyanathan, P. (2003). The promises and perils of nanoscience and nanotechnology: Exploring emerging social and ethical issues. Bulletin of Science, Technology & Society, 23(4), 236–245.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Uddin, M. & Chowdhury, R. (2001). Integration of nanotechnology into the undergraduate engineering curriculum, International Conference on Engineering Education. August 6–10, 2001 Oslo, Norway, 6–10.Google Scholar
  24. Vanasupa, L., Slivovski, L., & Chen, K. C. (2006). Global challenges as inspiration: A classroom strategy to foster social responsibility. Science and Engineering Ethics, 12(2), 373–380.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Weil, V. (2003). Zeroing in on ethical issues in nanotechnology. Proceedings of the IEEE, 91(11), 1976–1979.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Zandvoort, H. (2008). Preparing engineers for social responsibility. European Journal of Engineering Education, 33(2), 133–140.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Balamuralithara Balakrishnan
    • 1
  • Pek Hoon Er
    • 2
  • Punita Visvanathan
    • 2
  1. 1.Faculty of Arts, Computer and Creative IndustryUniversiti Pendidikan Sultan IdrisTanjung MalimMalaysia
  2. 2.Centre for Learning and TeachingUniversiti Tunku Abdul RahmanSetapak, Kuala LumpurMalaysia

Personalised recommendations