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Preparing engineers for social responsibility

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In this paper I introduce the contributions to a special section of the journal: one devoted to the question of how engineering curricula can or should contribute to the preparation of graduates for socially responsible decision making and conduct. The special section is motivated by the circumstance that, although there is broad agreement that engineering education has a role in preparing its graduates for social responsibility, there is a considerable lack of clarity as to how graduates should be prepared for social responsibility, and what this entails for the engineering curricula. Bucciarelli and Conlon both provide reasons why, in order to prepare graduates adequately for social responsibility, considerations of the organisational, social, legal and political context in which engineers operate need to be included in the teaching. Conlon, in addition, explores the possible contributions that the field of sociology can make to this teaching. Heikkero focuses on the attitudes that are required for socially responsible professional practice and that should be taught in engineering education. Didier and Huet present the results of a survey on how the issue of corporate social responsibility is being discussed and taught in engineering education in France. Both Borsen and Zandvoort et al. report on courses that they teach, and which are aimed at preparing students for ethical and social responsibility.

Keywords: engineering education; ethics; social responsibility

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Faculty of Technology Policy and Management, Delft University of Technology, GA Delft, NL

Publication date: May 1, 2008

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