Author: Dr. Sarah Jayne Hitt Ph.D. SFHEA (NMITE, Edinburgh Napier University). 

Topic: Building sustainability awareness. 

Tool type: Teaching. 

Relevant disciplines: Any. 

Keywords: Everyday ethics; Communication; Teaching or embedding sustainability; Knowledge exchange; SDGs; Risk analysis; Interdisciplinary; Social responsibility; AHEP; Sustainability; Higher education. 
 
Sustainability competency: Systems thinking; Critical thinking; Self-awareness, Normative.

AHEP mapping: This resource addresses two of the themes from the UK’s Accreditation of Higher Education Programmes fourth edition (AHEP4): The Engineer and Society (acknowledging that engineering activity can have a significant societal impact) and Engineering Practice (the practical application of engineering concepts, tools and professional skills). To map this resource to AHEP outcomes specific to a programme under these themes, access AHEP 4 here and navigate to pages 30-31 and 35-37.  

Related SDGs: Many SDGs could relate to this activity, depending on what students focus on. Teachers could choose to introduce the SDGs and dimensions of sustainability prior to the students doing the activity or the students could complete part one without this introduction, and follow on to further parts after an introduction to these topics. 
 
Reimagined Degree Map Intervention: Active pedagogies and mindset development.

Educational level: Beginner / Intermediate. 

 

Learning and teaching notes:  

This learning activity is designed to build students’ awareness of different dimensions of sustainability through reflection on their everyday activities. This activity is presented in two parts. If desired, a teacher can use Part one in isolation, but Part two develops and complicates the concepts presented in Part one to provide for additional learning. Educators could incorporate shorter or longer versions of the activity as fits their needs and contexts. This activity could be presented without a focus on a specific area of engineering, or, students could be asked to do this around a particular discipline. Another powerful option would be to do the activity once at the beginning of term and then again at the end of term, asking students to reflect on how their perceptions have changed after learning more about sustainability. 

This activity could be delivered as an in-class small group discussion, as an individual writing assignment, or a combination of both. Students could even make a short video or poster that captures their insights.  

Learners have the opportunity to: 

Teachers have the opportunity to: 

 

Supporting resources 

 

Part one: 

Choose 3 activities that you do every day. These could be things like: brushing your teeth, commuting, cooking a meal, messaging your friends and family, etc. For each activity, consider the following as they connect to this activity: 

To help you consider these elements, list the “stuff” that is involved in doing each activity—for example, in the case of brushing your teeth, this would include the toothbrush, the toothpaste, the container(s) the toothpaste comes in, the sink, the tap, and the water.  

 

Part two: 

Teachers may want to preface this part of the activity through an introduction to the SDGs, or, they may want to allow students to investigate the SDGs as they are related to these everyday activities. Students could engage in the following: 

 

Acknowledgements: This activity is based on an Ethical Autobiography activity developed by Professor Sandy Woodson and other instructors of the “Nature and Human Values” module at the Colorado School of Mines. 

 

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

Any views, thoughts, and opinions expressed herein are solely that of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views, opinions, policies, or position of the Engineering Professors’ Council or the Toolkit sponsors and supporters. 
 
 
To view a plain text version of this resource, click here to download the PDF.

In developing the resources for the EPC’s Sustainability Toolkit, we took into account recent scholarship and best practices and reviewed existing material available on sustainability in engineering. You can find links to these online resources in our ever-growing library of engineering education resources on sustainability below. Please note, the resources linked below are all open-source. If you want to suggest a resource that has helped you, find out how on our Get Involved page.

 

To view a page that only lists library links from a specific category type:

 

Knowledge tools

Listed below are links to resources that support educators’ awareness and understanding of sustainability topics in general as well as their connection to engineering education in particular. These have been grouped according to topic. You can also find our suite of knowledge tools, here.

Resource Topic Discipline
UN SDG website Education for Sustainable Development and UN Sustainable Development Goals General
UNESCO’s Education for Sustainable Development Toolbox Education for Sustainable Development and UN Sustainable Development Goals General
Newcastle University’s Guide to Engineering and Education for Sustainable Development Education for Sustainable Development and UN Sustainable Development Goals General
International Institute for Sustainable Development Knowledge Hub Education for Sustainable Development and UN Sustainable Development Goals General
PBL, SDGs, and Engineering Education WFEO Academy webinar (only accessible to WFEO academy members) Education for Sustainable Development and UN Sustainable Development Goals Engineering-specific
Re-setting the Benchmarks for Engineering Graduates with the Right Skills for Sustainable Development WFEO Academy webinar (only accessible to WFEO academy members) Education for Sustainable Development and UN Sustainable Development Goals Engineering-specific
AdvanceHE’s Guidance on embedding Education for Sustainable Development in HE Education for Sustainable Development and UN Sustainable Development Goals General
UNESCO Engineering Report  Education for Sustainable Development and UN Sustainable Development Goals Engineering-specific
AdvanceHEEducation for Sustainable Development: a review of the literature 2015-2022  (only accessible to colleagues from member institutions at AdvanceHE – this is a member benefit until October 2025) Education for Sustainable Development and UN Sustainable Development Goals General
Wackernagel, M., Hanscom, L. and Lin, D. (2017) Making the Sustainable Development Goals consistent with sustainability, Frontiers. (Accessed: 01 February 2024). Education for Sustainable Development and UN Sustainable Development Goals General
Vertically Integrated Projects for Sustainable Development (VIP4SD), University of Strathclyde (Video) Education for Sustainable Development and UN Sustainable Development Goals General
Vertically Integrated Projects for Sustainable Development, University of Strathclyde (Study with us) Education for Sustainable Development and UN Sustainable Development Goals General
Siemens Skills for Sustainability Network Roundtable Article – August 2022 Education for Sustainable Development and UN Sustainable Development Goals Engineering-specific
Siemens Skills for Sustainability Network Roundtable Article – October 2022 Education for Sustainable Development and UN Sustainable Development Goals Engineering-specific
Siemens Skills for Sustainability Student Survey Student Voice  Engineering-specific
Students Organising for Sustainability Learning Academy Student Voice  General
Students Organising for Sustainability – Sustainability Skills Survey Student Voice  General
Engineers Without Borders-UK Global Responsibility Competency Compass Competency Frameworksfor Sustainability  Engineering-specific
Institute of Environmental Management and Assessment Sustainability Skills Map Competency Frameworksfor Sustainability  General
Arizona State School of Sustainability Key Competencies Competency Frameworksfor Sustainability  General
EU GreenComp: the European Sustainability Competence Framework Competency Frameworksfor Sustainability  General
International Engineering Alliance Graduate Attributes & Professional Competencies Competency Frameworksfor Sustainability  General
Engineering for One Planet (EOP) – The EOP Framework Competency Frameworksfor Sustainability  Engineering-specific
Ellen Macarthur Foundation’s Circular Economy website Broader Context , Circular economy Engineering-specific
GreenBiz’s Cheat Sheet of EU Sustainability Regulations Broader Context , Regulations General
Green Software Practitioner – Principles of Green Software Broader Context , Software Engineering-specific
Microsoft’s Principles of Sustainable Software Engineering Broader Context , Software Engineering-specific
Engineering Futures – Sustainability in Engineering 2023 webinars  (You will need to create an account on the Engineering Futures website. Once you have created your account, navigate back to this link, scroll down to ”Sustainability in Engineering Webinars” and enter your account details. Click on the webinar recordings you wish to access. You will then be redirected to the Crowdcast website, where you will need to create an account to view the recordings.) Broader Context, Engineering Engineering-specific
Innes, C. (2023) AI and Sustainability: Weighing up the environmental pros and cons of Machine Intelligence Technology., Jisc – Infrastructure.  (Accessed: 01 February 2024). Broader Context, Artificial Intelligence Engineering-specific
Arnold, W. (2020a) The structural engineer’s responsibility in this climate emergency, The Institution of Structural Engineers. (Accessed: 01 February 2024). Broader Context, Structural engineering Engineering-specific
Arnold, W. (2017) Structural engineering in 2027, The Institution of Structural Engineers. (Accessed: 01 February 2024). Broader Context, Structural engineering Engineering-specific
Arnold, W. (2020b) The institution’s response to the climate emergency, The Institution of Structural Engineers. (Accessed: 01 February 2024). Broader Context, Structural engineering Engineering-specific
Litos , L. et al. (2023) An investigation between the links of sustainable manufacturing practices and Innovation, Procedia CIRP. (Accessed: 01 February 2024). Broader Context, Manufacturing Engineering-specific
UAL Fashion SEEDS: Fashion Societal, Economic and Environmental Design-led Sustainability Broader context, Design General

Any views, thoughts, and opinions expressed herein are solely that of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views, opinions, policies, or position of the Engineering Professors’ Council or the Toolkit sponsors and supporters.

Author: The Sustainability Resources Library was produced by Crystal Nwagboso (Engineering Professors Council).If you want to suggest a resource that has helped you, find out how on our Get Involved page.

In developing the resources for the EPC’s Sustainability Toolkit, we took into account recent scholarship and best practices and reviewed existing material available on sustainability in engineering. You can find links to these online resources in our ever-growing library of engineering education resources on sustainability below. Please note, the resources linked below are all open-source. If you want to suggest a resource that has helped you, find out how on our Get Involved page.

 

Jump to a section on this page:

 

To view a page that only lists library links from a specific category type:

 

Assessment tools

Listed below are links to tools that are designed to support educators’ ability to measure quality and impact of sustainability teaching and learning activities. These have been grouped according to topic. You can also find our suite of assessment tools, here.

Resource Topic Discipline
Newcastle University’s Assessing Education for Sustainable Development Assessment materials  General
Welsh Assembly Government: Education for Sustainable Development and Global Citizenship. A self-assessment toolkit for Work-Based Learning Providers. Assessment materials  General
The Accreditation of Higher Education Programmes (AHEP) – Fourth edition Accreditation materials  General
Times Higher Education – Impact Rankings 2022 Accreditation materials  General
Times Higher Education, Impact Rankings 2023 Accreditation materials  General
The UK Standard for Professional Engineering Competence and Commitment (UK-SPEC) Accreditation materials  General

 

Collaboration resources

Click to view our Collaboration resources page where you can find links to groups, networks, and organisations/initiatives that will support educators’ ability to learn with and from others. 

 

Integration tools

Listed below are links to tools designed to support educators ability to apply and embed sustainability topics within their engineering teaching. These have been grouped according to topic. You can also find our suite of learning activities and case studies, here.

Resource Topic Discipline
Engineering for One Planet Framework Learning Outcomes Curriculum Development  Engineering-specific
Education & Training Foundation’s Map the Curriculum Tool for ESD Curriculum Development  General
University College Cork’s Sustainable Development Goals Toolkit Curriculum Development  General
Strachan, S.M. et al. (2019) Using vertically integrated projects to embed research-based education for Sustainable Development in undergraduate curricula, International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education. (Accessed: 01 February 2024). Curriculum Development  General
Siemens Case Studies on Sustainability Case Studies Engineering-specific
Low Energy Transition Initiative Case Studies Case Studies , Energy Engineering-specific
UK Green Building Council Case Studies Case Studies , Construction Engineering-specific
Litos, L. et al. (2017) Organizational designs for sharing environmental best practice between manufacturing sites, SpringerLink. (Accessed: 01 February 2024). Case Studies , Manufacturing Engineering-specific
Litos, L. et al. (2017) A maturity-based improvement method for eco-efficiency in manufacturing systems, Procedia Manufacturing. (Accessed: 01 February 2024). Case Studies , Manufacturing Engineering-specific
European Product Bureau – Indicative list of software tools and databases for Level(s) indicator 1.2 (version December 2020). Technical tools, Built environment Engineering-specific
Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) – Whole life carbon assessment (WLCA) for the built environment Technical tools, Built environment Engineering-specific
The Institution of Structural Engineers (ISTRUCTE) – The Structural carbon tool – version 2 Technical tools, Structural engineering Engineering-specific
Green, M. (2014) What the social progress index can reveal about your country, Michael Green: What the Social Progress Index can reveal about your country | TED Talk. (Accessed: 01 February 2024). Technical tools  General

Manfred Max-Neef’s Fundamental human needs (Matrix of needs and satisfiers)

”One of the applications of the work is in the field of Strategic Sustainable Development, where the fundamental human needs (not the marketed or created desires and wants) are used in the Brundtland definition.”

Technical tools  General
Siemens – Engineering student software  Technical tools Engineering-specific
Despeisse, M. et al. (2016) A collection of tools for factory eco-efficiency, Procedia CIRP. (Accessed: 01 February 2024). Technical tools, Manufacturing Engineering-specific
Engineering for One Planet Quickstart Activity Guide Other Learning Activities  Engineering-specific
Engineering for One Planet Comprehensive Guide to Teaching Learning Outcomes Other Learning Activities  Engineering-specific
Siemens Engineering Curriculum Materials Other Learning Activities  Engineering-specific
VentureWell’s Activities for Integrating Sustainability into Technical Classes Other Learning Activities  General
VentureWell’s Tools for Design and Sustainability Other Learning Activities  Engineering-specific
AskNature’s Biomimicry Toolbox Other Learning Activities  Engineering-specific
Segalas , J. (2020) Freely available learning resources for Sustainable Design in engineering education, SEFI. (Accessed: 01 February 2024). Other Learning Activities  Engineering-specific
Siemens Xcelerator Academy Other Learning Activities  Engineering-specific

 

Knowledge tools

Listed below are links to resources that support educators’ awareness and understanding of sustainability topics in general as well as their connection to engineering education in particular. These have been grouped according to topic. You can also find our suite of knowledge tools, here.

Resource Topic Discipline
UN SDG website Education for Sustainable Development and UN Sustainable Development Goals General
UNESCO’s Education for Sustainable Development Toolbox Education for Sustainable Development and UN Sustainable Development Goals General
Newcastle University’s Guide to Engineering and Education for Sustainable Development Education for Sustainable Development and UN Sustainable Development Goals General
International Institute for Sustainable Development Knowledge Hub Education for Sustainable Development and UN Sustainable Development Goals General
PBL, SDGs, and Engineering Education WFEO Academy webinar (only accessible to WFEO academy members) Education for Sustainable Development and UN Sustainable Development Goals Engineering-specific
Re-setting the Benchmarks for Engineering Graduates with the Right Skills for Sustainable Development WFEO Academy webinar (only accessible to WFEO academy members) Education for Sustainable Development and UN Sustainable Development Goals Engineering-specific
AdvanceHE’s Guidance on embedding Education for Sustainable Development in HE Education for Sustainable Development and UN Sustainable Development Goals General
UNESCO Engineering Report  Education for Sustainable Development and UN Sustainable Development Goals Engineering-specific
AdvanceHEEducation for Sustainable Development: a review of the literature 2015-2022  (only accessible to colleagues from member institutions at AdvanceHE – this is a member benefit until October 2025) Education for Sustainable Development and UN Sustainable Development Goals General

Wackernagel, M., Hanscom, L. and Lin, D. (2017) Making the Sustainable Development Goals consistent with sustainability, Frontiers. (Accessed: 01 February 2024).

Education for Sustainable Development and UN Sustainable Development Goals General
Vertically Integrated Projects for Sustainable Development (VIP4SD), University of Strathclyde (Video) Education for Sustainable Development and UN Sustainable Development Goals General
Vertically Integrated Projects for Sustainable Development, University of Strathclyde (Study with us) Education for Sustainable Development and UN Sustainable Development Goals General
Siemens Skills for Sustainability Network Roundtable Article – August 2022 Education for Sustainable Development and UN Sustainable Development Goals Engineering-specific
Siemens Skills for Sustainability Network Roundtable Article – October 2022 Education for Sustainable Development and UN Sustainable Development Goals Engineering-specific
Siemens Skills for Sustainability Student Survey Student Voice  Engineering-specific
Students Organising for Sustainability Learning Academy Student Voice  General
Students Organising for Sustainability – Sustainability Skills Survey Student Voice  General
Engineers Without Borders-UK Global Responsibility Competency Compass Competency Frameworksfor Sustainability  Engineering-specific
Institute of Environmental Management and Assessment Sustainability Skills Map Competency Frameworksfor Sustainability  General
Arizona State School of Sustainability Key Competencies Competency Frameworksfor Sustainability  General
EU GreenComp: the European Sustainability Competence Framework Competency Frameworksfor Sustainability  General
International Engineering Alliance Graduate Attributes & Professional Competencies Competency Frameworksfor Sustainability  General
Engineering for One Planet (EOP) – The EOP Framework Competency Frameworksfor Sustainability  Engineering-specific
Ellen Macarthur Foundation’s Circular Economy website Broader Context , Circular economy Engineering-specific
GreenBiz’s Cheat Sheet of EU Sustainability Regulations Broader Context , Regulations General
Green Software Practitioner – Principles of Green Software Broader Context , Software Engineering-specific
Microsoft’s Principles of Sustainable Software Engineering Broader Context , Software Engineering-specific
Engineering Futures – Sustainability in Engineering 2023 webinars  (You will need to create an account on the Engineering Futures website. Once you have created your account, navigate back to this link, scroll down to ”Sustainability in Engineering Webinars” and enter your account details. Click on the webinar recordings you wish to access. You will then be redirected to the Crowdcast website, where you will need to create an account to view the recordings.) Broader Context, Engineering Engineering-specific
Innes, C. (2023) AI and Sustainability: Weighing up the environmental pros and cons of Machine Intelligence Technology., Jisc – Infrastructure.  (Accessed: 01 February 2024). Broader Context, Artificial Intelligence Engineering-specific
Arnold, W. (2020a) The structural engineer’s responsibility in this climate emergency, The Institution of Structural Engineers. (Accessed: 01 February 2024). Broader Context, Structural engineering Engineering-specific
Arnold, W. (2017) Structural engineering in 2027, The Institution of Structural Engineers. (Accessed: 01 February 2024). Broader Context, Structural engineering Engineering-specific
Arnold, W. (2020b) The institution’s response to the climate emergency, The Institution of Structural Engineers. (Accessed: 01 February 2024). Broader Context, Structural engineering Engineering-specific
Litos , L. et al. (2023) An investigation between the links of sustainable manufacturing practices and Innovation, Procedia CIRP. (Accessed: 01 February 2024). Broader Context, Manufacturing Engineering-specific
UAL Fashion SEEDS: Fashion Societal, Economic and Environmental Design-led Sustainability
Broader context, Design General

 

Any views, thoughts, and opinions expressed herein are solely that of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views, opinions, policies, or position of the Engineering Professors’ Council or the Toolkit sponsors and supporters.

Author: The Sustainability Resources Library was produced by Crystal Nwagboso (Engineering Professors Council). If you want to suggest a resource that has helped you, find out how on our Get Involved page.

This post is also available here.


Have you used our Engineering Ethics Toolkit in your teaching? We want to hear from you!

February 2022 saw the launch of our Engineering Ethics Toolkit, with a range of case studies and guidance articles available to help engineering educators embed ethics into their modules and curriculum.

In March 2023 we published further guidance articles and case studies, as well as enhancements on some of the classroom activities suggested within our original cases. June 2023 saw the launch of the interactive Ethics Explorer, which replaced the static engineering ethics curriculum map from 2015.

More and more engineering educators are telling us that they use these resources, and are finding them invaluable in their teaching. A brave few have contributed blogs, detailing their methods of using and adapting our case studies and classroom activities, and giving an honest appraisal of their own learning curve in teaching ethics.

We’ve heard about leaning in to your discomfort, first time fear, and letting students flex their ethical muscles.

We would love to publish more of this type of content. We want to hear your experiences, good or bad, along with tips, potential pitfalls, what you added to our content in your teaching, and what you and your students got out of the experience. If you have students who are enthusiastic about sharing their thoughts, we would love to hear from them too.

We’d like you to send us your blogs and testimonials, whether that be a couple of sentences or paragraphs, or a full article with diagrams, or anything in between.

You can submit your blog post or testimonial here, or email Wendy Attwell to discuss your submission first.

We look forward to hearing your experiences.

This post is also available here.

Any views, thoughts, and opinions expressed herein are solely that of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views, opinions, policies, or position of the Engineering Professors’ Council or the Toolkit sponsors and supporters.

Do you want to champion the teaching of ethics within engineering?
Do you want to help shape the future of the Engineering Ethics Toolkit?
Do you need support with integrating ethics into your own engineering teaching?

If you answered yes to one or more of these questions, then you should join our new Ethics Ambassadors community.

Ethics Ambassadors was launched in March 2023 in order to expand and develop the work and recommendations of the Engineering Ethics Advisory Group, whose expertise and advocacy was instrumental during the creation and development of the Engineering Ethics Toolkit.

The aims of the Ethics Ambassadors community are:

An initial meeting of Ethics Ambassadors was held in June 2023 and we are currently in the process of nominating and voting for key roles within the community.

You can learn more about Ethics Ambassadors here.

To join Ethics Ambassadors, please fill out this Membership request form.

 

This post is also available here.

Any views, thoughts, and opinions expressed herein are solely that of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views, opinions, policies, or position of the Engineering Professors’ Council or the Toolkit sponsors and supporters.

The Engineering Ethics Toolkit is a suite of interactive resources, guidance and teaching materials that enables educators to easily introduce ethics into the education of every engineer. We would like to ensure that all universities with Engineering departments are aware of the toolkit and able to make use of it.

To this end, we’ve produced a pack of resources that can be distributed to relevant departments and staff members such as Engineering department heads, staff and administrators, as well as Vice-Chancellors, Deans, and anyone else who may find our resource useful in teaching or curriculum development.

We would be very grateful if you could share these resources, and encourage you to explore and use them in your teaching.

Our pack of resources to help you present and promote the Engineering Ethics Toolkit contains the following files, and can be downloaded individually below, or as a pack from here.

Information on the toolkit (PDF)
01. Engineering Ethics Toolkit – key talking points
02. Media release July 2023 – Engineering Professors’ Council
03. Engineering Ethics – overview

Sample resources (PDF)
04. Engineering Ethics Toolkit – Advice and Guidance – Why integrate ethics in engineering
05. Engineering Ethics Toolkit – Case study – Developing an internet constellation
06. Engineering Ethics Toolkit – Case enhancement – Developing an internet constellation

Promotional display posters (PDF)
07. Engineering Ethics Toolkit – poster
08. Ethics Explorer – poster
09. Ethics Ambassadors – poster

Promotional images (JPG)
10. Engineering Ethics Toolkit Logo
11. Ethics Explorer front page
12. Students at TEDI-London
13. Students in discussion

PowerPoint slides (pptx)
14. Engineering Ethics Toolkit – Overview
15. Engineering Ethics Toolkit – Talking points
16. Engineering Ethics Toolkit – Ethics Ambassadors

You can download the entire pack from here.

If you have any questions or comments about this resource, please contact w.attwell@epc.ac.uk.

 

This post is also available here.

Any views, thoughts, and opinions expressed herein are solely that of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views, opinions, policies, or position of the Engineering Professors’ Council or the Toolkit sponsors and supporters.

Media release

15th June 2023

The Engineering Professors’ Council today announced the launch of innovative new content for their Engineering Ethics Toolkit, an online resource that helps educators to build ethics directly into their engineering teaching.  

Created by the Engineering Professors’ Council (EPC) with support from the Royal Academy of Engineering, the Engineering Ethics Toolkit addresses the issue that relatively few university engineering courses explicitly embed ethics teaching throughout the curriculum.   

The ability to tell right from wrong – and better from worse – is as vital to an engineer as maths or design skills, yet many UK higher education institutions fall short in effectively developing these abilities in future engineering professionals. The Engineering Ethics Toolkit solves this problem with a suite of interactive resources, guidance and teaching materials that aim to engage educators, and enable them to introduce ethics into the education and training of every engineer, allowing the UK to position itself as a leader in promoting engineering as a force to improve the world for people and the planet.  

As well as offering advice to educators who want to teach ethics but are not sure where to begin, the Toolkit features ready-to-use classroom resources that are rooted in educational best practice and align with the Accreditation of Higher Education Programmes (AHEP) criteria, which are the conditions for courses to receive professional accreditation.   

These case studies and other teaching materials highlight current and emerging real-world issues and can be used and adapted by anyone. The latest additions to the Engineering Ethics Toolkit include the interactive Ethics Explorer, which helps educators understand, plan for and implement ethics learning, and 30 new academic guidance articles, case studies and comprehensive classroom activities created and developed by academic and industry professionals.  

Dr Rhys Morgan, Director of Education and Diversity at the Royal Academy of Engineering, comments: “There has never been a more crucial time to ensure that the next generation of engineers have the skills and training to critically address ethical questions around issues such as artificial intelligence and sustainability. It is vital for the future of our profession, as well as the future of our society and planet, that every engineer develops the ability to make responsible and informed decisions regarding the ethics of their work.”  

Raffaella Ocone OBE FREng FRSE, Professor of Chemical Engineering at Heriot-Watt University and a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering, remarks: “As engineers and as educators we want to improve the world. When we teach ethics within our engineering degrees, we teach the ability to determine what is wrong and what is right, what is a mistake and what is an improvement. The Engineering Ethics Toolkit makes it easy to include ethics in our teaching. It is a treasure trove for educators.”  

The Engineering Ethics Toolkit is a free to use suite of resources, available at epc.ac.uk/resources/toolkit/ethics-toolkit   

To hear about forthcoming Engineering Ethics Toolkit webinars and workshops, join the EPC’s Ethics Ambassadors community by emailing press@epc.ac.uk 

Ends

Notes to editors

Contact

Contact: Johnny Rich
Email: press@epc.ac.uk
Phone: 0781 111 4292
Website: epc.ac.uk/resources/toolkit/ethics-toolkit
Twitter: @EngProfCouncil
#EngineeringEthicsToolkit
#EngineeringEthics

 

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The Ethics Explorer is an interactive tool that was built to help engineering educators navigate the landscape of engineering ethics education. It is the newest resource in the Engineering Ethics Toolkit.

Whether you’re an ethics veteran or brand new to teaching ethics within engineering, the Ethics Explorer allows you to find your own path through what can sometimes seem like a wilderness.

Choose a path depending on what you want to do. Improve your own ethics learning? Plan for ethics learning? Integrate or assess an ethics activity? Each path leads you through content such as learning outcomes, graduate attributes, and accreditation criteria, while also pointing you to supporting activities and resources linked to the content.

The Ethics Explorer replaces the static engineering ethics curriculum map published in 2015, although there is also a printable version available in PDF form, that summarises content from the interactive Explorer.

The content in the Ethics Explorer is subject to changes in context and should be customised to suit the various forms that
an engineering degree can take. It is intended as a non-prescriptive resource – as a way of suggesting to educators how ethics might comprise a distinct theme in an engineering undergraduate degree. This version of the Ethics Explorer is focused on the UK higher education context, but it may be adapted for use in other countries.

The Ethics Explorer is a free to use resource, accessible to all. Start exploring here.

Have you used the Ethics Explorer? Tell us about your experience – what you loved, what is missing, and what could be improved. Fill out our feedback form, or email w.attwell@epc.ac.uk.

 

This post is also available here.

 

Dr. Jude Bramton of the University of Bristol discusses her first-hand experience of using the Engineering Ethics Toolkit and what lessons she learnt.

 

Starting off

Let me set the scene. It’s a cold January morning after the winter break and I need to prepare some Engineering Ethics content for our third year Mechanical Engineers. The students have never been taught this topic, and I have never taught it.

I’m apprehensive – many of our students are fantastic engineering scientists/mathematicians and I’m not sure how they will engage with a subject that is more discussive and, unlike their more technical subjects, a subject with no single correct answer.

Nonetheless, my task is to design a 50-minute session for ca. 180 undergraduate Mechanical Engineers to introduce the concept of Engineering Ethics and start to build this thinking into their engineering mindset. The session will be in a flatbed teaching space, where students will be sitting in groups they have been working in for a number of weeks.

For a bit more context, the content is assessed eventually as part of a group coursework where students assess the ethical implications of a specific design concept they have come up with.

 

Designing the session with the help of the Toolkit

From doing a little bit of research online, I came across the Engineering Ethics Toolkit from the EPC – and I was so grateful.

I started off by reviewing all 8 case studies available at the time, and reading them in the context of my session. I picked one that I felt was most appropriate for the level and the subject matter and chose the Solar Panels in a Desert Oil Field case study.

I used the case study in a way that worked for me – that’s the beauty of this resource, you can make it what you want.

I put my session together using the case study as the basis, and including the Engineering Council’s principles of Engineering Ethics and some hand-picked tools from some of Toolkit’s guidance articles – for example, I used the 7-step guide to ethical decision making.

I used the text directly from the case study to make my slides. I introduced the scenario in parts, as recommended, and took questions/thoughts verbally from the students as we went. The students then had access to all of the scenario text on paper, and had 15-20 minutes to agree three decisions on the ethical dilemmas presented in the scenario. Students then had to post their group’s answers on PollEverywhere.

The overall session structure looked like this:

 

How did it go?

When I ran the session, one key component was ensuring I set my expectations for student participation and tolerance at the start of the session. I openly told students that, if they feel comfortable, they will need to be vocal and participative in the session to get the most from it. I literally asked them – “Is that something we think we can do?” – I got nods around the room (so far, so good).

Overall, the session went better than I could have expected. In fact, I think it was the most hands up I have ever had during a class. Not only did we hear from students who hadn’t openly contributed to class discussion before, but I had to actively stop taking points to keep to time. It made me wonder whether this topic, being presented as one with no wrong or right answers, enabled more students to feel comfortable contributing to a large class discussion. Students were very tolerant of each others’ ideas, and we encouraged differences of opinion.

For the small group discussions, I left a slide up with the three ethical dilemmas and the 7-step guide to ethical decision making as a prompt for those that needed it. During the small group discussions, I and supporting teaching staff wandered around the room observing, listening and helping to facilitate discussion, although this was rarely needed as engagement was fantastic. The small group sessions also allowed opportunities for contribution from those students who perhaps felt less comfortable raising points in the wider class discussion.

To my delight, the room was split on many decisions, allowing us to discuss all aspects of the dilemmas when we came to summarise as a larger class. I even observed one group being so split they were playing rock-paper-scissors to make their decision – not quite the ethical decision making tool we might advertise, but representative of the dilemma and engagement of students nonetheless!

 

Student feedback

I asked our Student Cohort Representative to gather some informal feedback from students who attended the session. Overall, the response was overwhelmingly positive, here are a few snippets:

“It was the best lecture I’ve had since I’ve been here.”

“The most interesting session, had me engaged.”

“It was the first time learning about the connections between engineering and ethics and it was really useful.”

“I enjoyed the participation and inclusion with the students during the lesson. It has favoured the growth of personal opinions and a greater clarity of the subject and its points of view.  Furthermore, the addition of real-life examples gave more depth to the topic, facilitating listening and learning.”

“The session was very engaging and I liked the use of examples… This whole unit has showed me how there are more aspects of engineering to consider apart from just designing something. Engineers must always think of ethics and I believe this session has demonstrated that well.”

And finally, when asked “What was your overall impression of the session?” a student replied Interesting and curious.” – what more could you ask for?

It was such a pleasant surprise to me that not only did students engage in the session, but they actively enjoyed the topic.

 

I’ve run it once, how would I improve it?

One thing I would do differently next time would be to allow even more time for discussion if at all possible. As discussed, I had to stop and move on, despite the engagement in the room at certain points.

I also reflect how it might have gone if the students weren’t as engaged at the start. If you have other teaching staff in the room, you can use them to demonstrate that it’s ok to have differences of opinion. A colleague and I openly disagreed with each other on a topic, and demonstrated that this was ok. Additionally, if larger class engagement doesn’t work for you, you could also go straight to the small group discussion.

 

In summary (and top tips!)

I now feel very comfortable, and excited, to be teaching engineering ethics. It has now also catalysed more content to be created to embed this theme further in our programme – so it doesn’t just become that “one off” lecture. However, I think providing specific time on this subject was very beneficial for the students, it gave them time and space to reflect on such a complex topic.

My takeaways and recommendations from this experience have been:

All in all, I would recommend the resources on the Engineering Ethics Toolkit to anyone. They can be easily adapted to your own contexts and there is a plethora of resources and knowledge that are proven to engage students and get them thinking ethically.

You can find out more about getting involved or contributing to the Engineering Ethics Toolkit here.

 

This blog is also available here.

Any views, thoughts, and opinions expressed herein are solely that of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views, opinions, policies, or position of the Engineering Professors’ Council or the Toolkit sponsors and supporters.

In this blog, Dr Matthew Studley, Associate Professor of Technology Ethics at UWE, looks at using case studies from the Engineering Ethics Toolkit to engage students.

Over the last two years, I have been part of the team that created the Engineering Ethics Toolkit for the Engineering Professors Council and the Royal Academy of Engineering. The toolkit is based around case studies, which let students flex their ethical muscles on problems concerning a variety of applications of technology in different fields, and are structured for delivery with examples of exercises, discussion points, and further reading.

We have integrated ethics teaching into all our programmes in the School of Engineering at UWE, Bristol, and this has given me the chance to build lessons on the case studies.  I first delivered a session to around 100 Degree Apprentices from a variety of industrial backgrounds.  This was exciting!

We first warmed up by discussing how ‘ethics’ is different from ‘morals’, and I suggested that we could view ethics in some ways as like any engineering process; we’re optimising for moral good, rather than cost, strength, or some other non-functional metric.  The big difference of course is that it’s hard to determine moral value – how do we measure it?

We discussed if ideas of good and bad are culturally determined and change with time, and whether there might be any universally accepted definitions.  We agreed that it would be hard to argue against a course of action if my opinion holds the same weight as yours.  Not only is ‘good’ hard to measure, but we can’t agree what it is.  So what’s the answer?

The big revelation.  The advantage of applied ethics is that we can call upon an external standard which solves part of this problem for us, defining the behaviours and outcomes which are desirable. The Engineering Council and the Royal Academy of Engineering have created a Statement of Ethical Principles for all engineers, which gives weight to our arguments about moral worth.  We now know what ‘good’ is.

I used one of the case studies in the toolkit to frame an open discussion in the lecture theatre, with groups discussing the points suggested by the authors.  Although our students were from a variety of backgrounds, it wasn’t a disadvantage to use the same case study for all. Feedback from the module leader suggested that the students found the session enjoyable and engaging (apparently, I should do a regular podcast).

After this pilot we have delivered a similar session on a wider scale by tutors to groups of all our final year students.  My colleagues suggested that some students were less engaged. I think we might use some role-play next time; get them moving round the room, get them to use their bodies, get them to own the issues. Ethics should engage the heart!

The great biologist E. O. Wilson said, “The real problem of humanity is the following: We have Palaeolithic emotions, medieval institutions and godlike technology.” With more people, having greater resource needs, and the possibility that AI will accelerate our technological development still faster, it seems to me more important than ever to train engineers who are confident and empowered to make ethical decisions.

If you would like to contribute a resource to the Engineering Ethics Toolkit, you can find out how to get involved here.

 

This blog is also available here.

Any views, thoughts, and opinions expressed herein are solely that of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views, opinions, policies, or position of the Engineering Professors’ Council or the Toolkit sponsors and supporters.

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