Engaged Scholarship for Ethics and Responsible Innovation in STEM Fields

Workshop: March 14-15, 2018
James B. Hunt, Jr. Library, NC State University, Raleigh, NC

Workshop Purpose

  • To share methods, outcomes, and experiences with engaged scholarship and learning for ethics and responsible innovation from the Genetic Engineering and Society Center’s CCE-STEM study;
  • 13 other projects from U. S. colleges and universities will also be presented.

Workshop Format

The 1.5 day workshop will include a keynote presentation, poster presentations, interactive panels on engaged learning and scholarship, and breakout discussion sessionsDownload Workshop Documents

Posters will be presented on ethics and responsible innovation courses, research projects and activities in STEM fields that incorporate engaged scholarship, such as:

  • collaborative, community-engaged research and learning involving STEM students
  • teaching social science research skills such as focus-group facilitation to STEM students
  • teaching civic-engagement theory and practice to STEM students


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Workshop supported by the National Science Foundation CCE STEM Program (Award No. 1540244) and the Genetic Engineering & Society Center, North Carolina State University.

Keynote Speaker

Dean Nieusma

Associate Professor & Associate Dean for Curricular Transition, School of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.

Dean Nieusma studies engineering reform from a variety of perspectives—professional, educational, epistemological, and cultural—focusing particularly on efforts at the intersection of technical and social dimensions of engineering. Nieusma also develops courses and curricula that integrate engineering and liberal education, such as within Rensselaer’s signature interdisciplinary Programs in Design and Innovation (PDI), which he directs.

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Nieusma’s research interests extend to include design and social studies of design, development and appropriate technology, renewable energy technology and policy, and the relationship between expertise and democratic processes. He has advised numerous student groups, currently including the Rensselaer chapters of Design For America and Engineers for a Sustainable World.

Nieusma’s research, teaching, and educational reform efforts have earned him numerous awards, including a Fulbright Award (Sri Lanka), the Faculty Project of the Year Award in Peace Studies, the Class of 1951 Outstanding Teacher Award, the David M. Darrin Counseling Award, and the Rensselaer Founders Award.

Nieusma’s publications include the book, Engineering and War: Militarism, Ethics, Institutions, Alternatives, with Ethan Blue and Michael Levine (Morgan & Claypool, 2014) as well as book chapters and articles in journals like Engineering Studies; Design Issues; IEEE’s Technology and Society; and Sustainability: Science, Policy, Practice.

Nieusma is active in the American Society for Engineering Education’s Liberal Education/Engineering and Society Division and the Society for Social Studies of Science. He is also a founding member of the Engineering, Social Justice, and Peace international network and a founding editor of the open-source, peer-reviewed International Journal of Engineering, Social Justice, and Peace.

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Live Stream

Live streamed portions of the workshop on YouTube:

  • Wed, 1PM: Introduction and Keynote
  • Thur, 9AM and 2PM: Panels


Wednesday March 14

12:15–12:20  Bus pick up at Doubletree Hilton, depart for Hunt Library

12:30–1:00   Poster set up

1:00-1:15    Welcome and Introductions

  • JENNIFER KUZMA, PhD, GES Center Co-Director, Fulbright Visiting Research Chair, University of Ottawa, and Goodnight-NC GSK Foundation Distinguished Professor, NC State
  • JOE HERKERT, D.Sc., Assoc. Professor Emeritus of Science, Technology & Society, Arizona State University, & GES Center Visiting Scholar, NC State

1:15-2:15    Keynote Address: Engaging Students to Engage the Public: Modeling Collaborative Inquiry in the Classroom, the Curriculum, and the Community

  • DEAN NIEUSMA, PhD, Assoc. Professor & Assoc. Dean for Curricular Transition, School of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

2:15-3:30    NC State CCE STEM Project: Exploring Meanings of Responsible Innovation in Communities of Bioengineering

3:30-4:00    BREAK

4:00-5:15    Poster Session I

  • Perrin Falkner/Leon Yacoubian, Diana Bairaktarova/Thomas Staley, Susan Winter, Qin Zhu, Mark Bourgeois, Colin Potts

5:20–5:30    Bus departs Hunt Library for David’s Dumpling & Noodle Bar

5:30-7:30    Reception + Dinner

7:30–7:40    Bus departs for Doubletree Hotel

Thursday March 15

8:15-8:20    Bus pick up at Doubletree Hilton, depart for Hunt Library

8:30-9:00    Continental Breakfast

9:00-10:00   Panel: Opportunities and Obstacles for Engaged Scholarship

  • Moderator: DAVID BERUBE, PhD, Professor of Risk Communication & Dir. of PCOST, NC State
  • Panelists: CRAIG BROOKINS, PhD, Assoc. Professor of Psychology, NC State;
    DAVID RESNIK, JD, PhD, Bioethicist & NIEHS IRB Chair; and
    SUSAN WINTER, PhD, Associate Dean for Research & CASCI Co-Director, University of Maryland

10:00-10:30  BREAK

10:30-11:45  Breakout Session I

  • Topic: Opportunities and obstacles

11:45-12:45  Lunch in house/networking

12:45-2:00   Poster Session II

  • Dalton George, Mitch Cieminski/Dean Nieusma, Justin Hess/Grant Fore, Rachel Koh, David Che, Shakira Hobbs

2:00-3:00    Panel: Connecting Engaged Scholarship and Learning

  • Moderator: ERIN BANKS, PhD, Dir. of Initiative for Maximizing Student Diversity, The Grad. School, NC State
  • Panelists: JASON DELBORNE, PhD, Assoc. Professor of Science, Policy, & Society, NC State;
    GAIL JONES, PhD, Professor of STEM Education, NC State; and
    COLIN POTTS, PhD, Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education, Georgia Tech

3:00-3:30    BREAK

3:30-4:45    Breakout Session II

  • Topic: Connecting scholarship and learning

4:45-5:00    Workshop Wrap up: JOE HERKERT

5:00-5:15    Poster tear down

5:20-5:25    Bus pick up at Hunt Library, depart for Doubletree Hilton then transport to RDU airport

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Poster Abstracts

Session I

1. Tuff Capstone: Tuff Planning Housing Development for Persons Displaced by the 1988 Spitak Earthquake

Perrin Falkner and Leon Yacoubian, University of Virginia

On December 7, 1988, the Spitak earthquake devastated the northwest region of Armenia, destroying both its homes and businesses, resulting in a near thirty-year housing crisis and economic decay. Families and individuals were placed in domiks, temporary homes made from shipping containers, after the earthquake and are still living in the containers today.

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These homes have deteriorated in the harsh climate, and the residents are left living with mold, rust, insufficient heating, and pests. During visits to Armenia in the summers of 2016 and 2017, these conditions were identified through testimonials collected by members of the Engineers Going Global (EGG) team at the University of Virginia (UVA). EGG focused on eight capacity factors (institutional, human capital resources, technical, financial and economic, environmental and natural resources, energy sources, social and cultural, and service factors) to determine the values and needs of members living in District 104, one of Gyumri, Armenia’s domik communities. To address these needs, EGG, another UVA engineering team called Tuff Capstone, and local community partners in Gyumri, have conceptualized a project to relocate domik residents to a new housing community.
Tuff Capstone, named after the abundant volcanic rock used for building in the Gyumri region, will take on the technical design of the community for the residents of District 104. Tuff Capstone is further divided into three sub-teams that will address major design aspects:

Planning, Building, and Materials. The Planning team will consider the current issues faced by residents, sustainable design goals, and sustainable economic models to develop a plan for housing that will address the community’s needs and desires. The Building team will work to model energy efficient, earthquake resilient structures, and the Materials team will investigate alternative uses for tuff stone, such as mixing it into concrete to create a stronger, more flexible material. Thus far, the Planning team has performed a quantitative decision analysis to help with the site selection from various potential sites across Gyumri, provided by a partner urban planning NGO, Gyumri Project Hope. The decision analysis included weighted categories such as each site’s proximity to the markets, churches, schools, clinics, and the original site, District 104, as well as land quality, pedestrian connections, environmental impact, and site preparation costs. To determine the layout of the infrastructure on the site, a preliminary rendering was created. The layout incorporated elements from historic Armenian architecture (U-shape buildings surrounding courtyards), a variation of “half-a-house” in the individual housing unit design (a proven design in earthquake relief housing that leaves half of a townhome unconstructed for the homeowners to customize to their liking), in addition to emphasizing pedestrian facilities and green space. All of the decision-making in the project was based on the needs and desires expressed in interviews with District 104 residents. A topographical survey of the site and feedback from the community on the current rendering and layout design will be utilized in the creation of multiple rendering iterations, a final comprehensive plan set, and a construction specifications book. These deliverables will serve as a guide in the construction of sustainable, high-quality buildings.

The goal of the project is to provide physical infrastructure that will address the issues of the current domiks. Furthermore, it is important to note and mitigate potential risks in creating this infrastructure to provide a more resilient residential and economic center. Since the devastation of the 1988 earthquake, the residents of District 104 have lived in incredibly poor conditions that negatively impact their health and impede their ability to improve their socioeconomic status. Community members are well-positioned to advise the Tuff Planning team due to their first-hand experiences. Participatory design is an iterative process that relies on good communication between agents and stakeholders, keeping in mind the idea of designing with, and not for, the community. Successfully carried out, this project will provide a model for other sustainable community development projects, not only in other domik districts of earthquake devastated Gyumri, but across the world.

2. The Role(s) of Engagement and Community in Transforming an Undergraduate General Education Curriculum and Cultivating a Culture of STEM Ethics

Diana Bairaktarova and Thomas Staley, Virginia Tech

We are in the initial stages of a study of large-scale changes to the undergraduate curriculum at a major research university (Virginia Tech), an initiative known internally as ‘Pathways to General Education’ (or simply ‘Pathways’). This transformation of our core curriculum seeks to provide more meaningful and flexible learning options for students across the university.

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Centrally, it mandates the integration of course content addressing global engagement and ethics within all general education classes, focusing significant attention on these two key areas of social concern. The new Pathways curriculum has been under systematic development for several years and has been supported by broad communal activity among the university’s administration, faculty, staff, and students – including the creation of numerous new courses and minors, reorganization of learning goals, faculty development initiatives, policy changes, and the development of a shared vision for ethics education. This framework not only provides significant opportunities for engaged scholarship in the sense of connecting the university to local, national, and global communities of interest; it is also in itself a reconsideration of the university-as-community, effectively continuous with society at large. This second sense will be our focus here. Our NSF-sponsored research project “Cultivating an Ethical STEM Culture through an Integrated Undergraduate General Education Curriculum” aims to support and investigate the Pathways transformation through a five-year program of research. We are studying the implementation and effectiveness of courses within the renewed curriculum that explicitly incorporate global and ethical considerations as part of STEM education. Our central goals are to characterize and assess the multi-faceted culture of teaching and learning that emerges from this ongoing institutional transformation and to identify effective avenues for this approach to be extended or transported to other institutions worldwide. Our research agenda includes several intersecting aspects: faculty perceptions, student outcomes, university-level cultural changes, and extension to other institutions.

In this poster presentation, we will discuss how community and engagement are central to our project. We will discuss two conceptual aspects of this link:

First, the university-as-community notion, in which we are hoping to analyze our own university-community (how is community affected by teaching and learning, in addition to how teaching and learning are affected by community). To document how implementation of the Pathways curriculum shapes cultures of STEM ethics for both faculty and students (documenting emerging cultures), we will explore faculty perceptions about their ethical teaching competence using a combination of narrative interviews and participant observation of courses. Interviews will investigate faculty perceptions, concerns, and challenges related to implementation of ethics in their courses.
Second, based on data gathered in this phase, we will work within existing faculty communities and training programs to develop general and field specific faculty ethics education opportunities and resources. These will likely include a faculty development summer institute, workshops, and course redesign opportunities.

We will conduct semi-structured interviews with faculty currently teaching in the Pathways program who have and have not completed the Pathways summer institute as well as faculty who are teaching non-Pathways affiliated courses that are part of the VT general education curriculum. We expect to find differences between the three groups’ perceptions of the meaning of ethics teaching and challenges associated with incorporating ethical perspectives into their courses, and expect to find variation in the course assessment mechanisms used by instructors of ethics-focused courses and courses without an ethics focus.

The second conceptual way we will discuss in the poster is our attempt to look at networking and collaborations still within a university context, but engaging outside our university-community to include other ones. The second conceptual way is an aspect of our work still mostly to happen in the next few years using social network analysis data to inform this perspective. However, we hope to engage in a meaningful discussion considering ‘academe’-at-large as presenting external challenges and opportunities for the local culture at our own university.

3. The Privacy by Design Simulation: Ethics Education through Experiential Learning

Susan Winter, University of Maryland
Co-authors: Donal Heidenblad and Katie Shilton

Teaching the engineers who curate sensitive and personal data to make wise ethical decisions is a critical challenge for ethics education. This poster presents the Privacy by Design Simulation: a role-playing game designed to teach information ethics through experiential learning.

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We believe that information ethics education can be improved by engaging students in real-world activities that mimic how software developers actually encounter and debate ethics in professional settings. This project tests our approach through deployment and evaluation of an ethics education role-playing game.

We designed the Privacy by Design Simulation to engage students in an area of software development rife with ethical issues: mobile application development. Mobile application developers have a large amount of ethical agency to decide what data their applications should collect (e.g. user location, photos, motion, sound), how long that data should be kept, and whether to share or sell that data.
Our team first studied real-world mobile application development using content analysis of online forums to discover factors that encourage discussion and action on ethical challenges (Greene & Shilton, 2017; Shilton & Greene, 2017). Among our findings were that choice of platform (Google vs. Apple), receiving user feedback, navigating third-party data access, and confronting technical and policy constraints all impacted the nature of privacy discussions among real-world mobile developers.

We then incorporated these factors into the simulation scenario in several ways. We decided to simulate “privacy by design” (Cavoukian, 2012): the current voluntary paradigm used to regulate privacy for mobile applications in the U.S. We also based the design scenario off of the tensions between platforms, requiring students to port a fictional health tracking app from the permissive “Robot” platform to the more restrictive “Fruit” platform. We assigned participants contrasting team roles, such as the project manager, software developer, or user experience developer. By giving each role a different value set (user advocacy, technical expertise, and efficient project management like timeliness and cost), we hoped to seed explicit values conversations. We also created “injects” – messages from fictional friends and team members – based on factors found in our empirical research. An inject from a fictional friend emails a blog article to participants to introduce possible policy constraints. Another inject from a fictional marketing director introduces third-party data access by asking participants to consider allowing partnership – and user data sharing – with an insurance company. We also experimented with the impact of leader advocacy, an important lever for encouraging values conversations in earlier research (Shilton, 2013), by having the head of the legal department express concerns about security. Finally, we used real-world developer privacy discussions as resources for student participants. Students were directed to forum discussions where software developers had negotiated consensus on the meaning of privacy.
After iterating on the scenario we developed an online simulation using the ICONS platform: a web-based simulation environment that facilitates discussion-heavy role playing and decision-making processes. We then deployed the simulation in two undergraduate information and computer science courses with over 120 students. Over several class periods, students interacted through our simulation to develop two proposals recommending privacy and technical changes to the fictional app.

We will evaluate the effectiveness of the intervention through both qualitative and quantitative means. Use of the ICONS platform facilitated capture of all student interactions, discussions, and final policy products. Additionally, research participants completed pre- and post-tests designed to measure changes in their ethical sensitivity and to collect additional qualitative data relating to how they believed their assigned role influenced or changed their decisions.

We hope to show that an experiential learning approach not only engages software engineers in ethics education, but also that it helps naturalize ethics as a component of technical work. Our poster will report on data from the simulation deployments to test, critique, and improve this approach.

Acknowledgements: Thanks to Mary Kendig and co-PI Adam Porter for support on this project. This project was funded by the NSF under grant SES-1449351.

Cavoukian, A. (2012). Operationalizing Privacy by Design: A Guide to Implementing Strong Privacy Practices. Ontario, Canada: Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada.
Greene, D., & Shilton, K. (2017). Platform privacies: Governance, collaboration, and the different meanings of “privacy” in iOS and Android development. New Media & Society.
Shilton, K., & Greene, D. (2017). Linking platforms, practices, and developer ethics: levers for privacy discourse in mobile application development. Journal of Business Ethics.
Shilton, K. (2013). Values levers: Building ethics into design. Science, Technology & Human Values, 38(3), 374–397.

4. Teaching Global Ethics of Nanotechnology to Engineering Students: A Gaming Approach

Qin Zhu, Colorado School of Mines

In recent years, there has been a growing interest in exploring the “engaged scholarship” in STEM ethics education. Students are invited to critically examine the crucial role of expertise and experts in shaping the future of global society. Philosophers of engineering education have argued that what is missing in current engineering education is the idea of “self-knowledge” and engineering educators are encouraged to become “critical participants” in the making of engineers.

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The moral sensitivity to the close connection between the “micro” decision-making in the everyday practice of engineering and the broader social and ethical impacts on the society (especially people in underserved communities) is central to engineering ethics education.

This presentation shares classroom experience employing the card game “Nano Around the World” to teach global ethics of nanotechnology in a 200-level undergraduate course on global ethics. A major goal of this exercise was to make students in a lower level large humanities and social sciences classroom (~75 students) more engaged in learning global ethics theories (e.g., human capabilities approach) and applying them to analyze specific technical cases such as nanotechnology. Students were invited to critically examine to what extent and in what sense nanotechnologies extend human capabilities and whether people with different cultural backgrounds benefit from technological advancements equally.

In the game, each student received three cards: a character card, a current nanotechnology card, and a future nanotechnology card. Each character card includes the background of the person (e.g., gender, occupation, salary, etc.) and a specific life goal this person attempts to achieve. Each student was asked to assume the role of the character and find nanotechnologies that might help achieve the goal of the character through negotiating and exchanging with other students in the classroom.

After the game, each student was asked to write a short essay in class reflecting on their experience playing the game. Students were provided with five guiding questions (some were adapted from the questions provided in the instructional guide of the game): (1) Have you experienced any difficulties in finding appropriate technologies for your character? (2) How useful are the nanotechnologies for meeting your goal(s)? (3) Are there any limitations with your current and/or future nanotechnology? Who are the major users of these technologies? (4) What capabilities of your character might be extended and/or hindered by using the technologies you have? and (5) Comparing future possible nanotechnologies with current nanotechnologies, which might benefit a wider array of people and why?

This game has been used in the same course for two semesters. This presentation will share some results from the students’ work in the two classes. It will briefly discuss future plans for better assessing students’ learning outcomes in this course such as the role of the game in improving students’ moral sensitivity and reasoning and reflecting on their experiences in technical courses. This presentation will also share some insights and challenges when implementing the gaming approach to ethics education in a large size lower level undergraduate humanities and social sciences course. With this presentation, I am hoping to interact with and learn from other workshop participants on how to better cultivate critical perspectives among engineering students on the social and ethical impacts of emerging technologies on underserved communities. 

5. The Social Responsibilities of Researchers Program at the University of Notre Dame

Mark Bourgeois, Notre Dame University

SRR – the Social Responsibilities of Researchers program – is a one-year-long training program in ethics and the social impacts of research for STEM PhD students at the University of Notre Dame. It is funded by an NSF EESE award and is now in its final year of operation, with the third of three cohorts finishing the program in May of 2018. The idea behind SRR is to connect motivated PhD students to the social context that their research takes place within.

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The program is for first and second year PhD students in all science and engineering programs, including social science. The interdisciplinary nature of the small, 15 student cohorts is an essential part of the experience, allowing students to forge relationships and gain perspective from students in programs very different from their own that they would otherwise not encounter. While in the program, students receive formal training on a number of topics: research ethics, case studies of scientific responsibility and irresponsibility, science communication, basic science policy and more. But the centerpiece of the student’s time in SRR is a social engagement project of their own design, undertaken with a faculty mentor. Student engagement projects have taken many forms, from the initiation of a now-thriving science podcast to a public Science Café talk to communications training for fellow grad students. Some projects have focused directly on the social impact of their own research area, others on the role of science in society generally, and yet others on issues pertinent for the local community. As the projects have varied, so too has what students have taken away from them – everything from a new perspective on the role of their discipline in society and the ethical issues it must confront to an appreciation for the role of policy and the importance of public outreach. This poster will describe the basic premises and goals of the SRR program and highlight select student projects within it. The fact that students in SRR choose and develop their own projects under the guidance of a mentor is significant in that the projects serve to demonstrate the range of ways that students themselves have found to integrate social engagement with the needs of the academe. The poster will also discuss the role of social engagement in the formation of the student’s identity as a researcher and the way in which it allows the student to focus on the internal goods and social import of their work rather than on external metrics like the impact factor of the journals they publish in. As SRR winds down, it is in the process of merging with a ‘sister’ program in leadership that serves a similar population and is also NSF-funded. Therefore, important linkages between social engagement and leadership will also be noted. Both programs have quantitative assessments integrated into them, including scales measuring such things as Community Service Attitudes and Integrity.

While these quantitative results are still being analyzed, student feedback is available and some of this may be noted as well. More information about the SRR program can be found at http://reilly.nd.edu/srr

6. STEM Students’ Attitudes Towards Public Welfare: The Effects of Community Engagement

Colin Potts, Georgia Tech
Co-authors: Ellen Zegura, Jason Borenstein, Alexandra Erwin, and Wendy Newstetter

Recent research suggests that undergraduate engineering programs may have a negative impact on the attitudes students have towards the public’s welfare (Cech 2014). As public pressure and other factors encourage academic institutions to place more emphasis on STEM education, it is important to evaluate and build on findings from prior studies in the literature and see whether these findings generalize to technical disciplines beyond engineering. If it can be substantiated that what Cech refers to as a “culture of disengagement” is occurring, then one pathway to explore is whether curricular and non-curricular interventions that may help mitigate that effect.

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Within this context, our research team is actively investigating whether and to what degree community engagement (CE), including service learning activities, affects STEM students’ perceptions of their ethical and social responsibilities to the public. Our work involves conducting an ambitious longitudinal five-year study; it includes extensive surveying and qualitative interviews of students. Over the course of spring-summer 2017, over 1250 of the incoming undergraduates at our institution completed the Generalized Professional Responsibility Assessment (GPRA). The GPRA is a modified version of the Engineering Professional Responsibility Assessment (EPRA) created by Bielefeldt and colleagues at the University of Colorado – Boulder (Canney and Bielefeldt 2016). The key reason for the modifications to the EPRA was to generate a survey that is more broadly applicable to engineers and non-engineers alike. Our research team is tracking the progress of the fall 2017 undergraduate student population from the first time they enroll through to graduation, as well as administering a version of the GPRA survey to each spring’s graduating class during the course of the project. This latter facet of the project began with spring 2017 graduates.
Integrally connected to the research project described above is that our home institution is taking part in a major five- to ten-year quality improvement plan entitled Serve-Learn-Sustain (SLS). It is a comprehensive campus-wide initiative that involves a broad collection of stakeholders. A defining feature of SLS is designing courses and projects that institutionalize CE into the curriculum and build academic bridges to ongoing extra-curricular student service opportunities. For example, Computing for Good (C4G) is part of this effort; the course seeks to connect students to real world problems, including ones related to human health, disasters, or homelessness. Several of the SLS courses, including C4G, and comparison courses are “sites” for qualitative investigations, in which members of our research team and others on our campus are seeking to understand the meanings that students create around community service and the social relevance of pre-professional and technical disciplines. Our campus is especially interested in how these interpretations evolve during students’ pathways to graduation and whether CE affects how they integrate or compartmentalize their identities as learners of knowledge and as actors in the world.

During the course of this poster presentation, our team will provide an overview of our CE and ethics research project along with explaining how it interconnects with the broader SLS campus initiative. Both of these efforts have the potential reveal important findings related to STEM education and ethics.

Canney, N. E. and Bielefeldt, A. R. (2016). “Validity and Reliability Evidence of the Engineering Professional Responsibility Assessment Tool.” Journal of Engineering Education 105: 452–477.
Cech, E. A. (2014). “Culture of disengagement in engineering education?” Science, Technology & Human Values 39(1): 42-72.

Session II

7. Data Grounded Fiction: An Engaged Method for Ethical Case Study Design

Dalton George, North Carolina State University

Ethics training has historically been under the domain of philosophy. Philosophical approaches to ethics emphasized universal principles such as beneficence and strove to teach STEM students central categories of normative philosophy such as utilitarian, duty-based, and rights-based perspectives. As practitioners aim to find additional ways to bring ethics into the classroom, some commentators have suggested incorporating lessons from Science, Technology and Society (STS) into engineering curricula (Herkert 2010; Han & Jeong 2014).

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STS scholars are uniquely trained to investigate the societal context of science and technology as well as the meaning STEM researchers attach to their day to day work practices. Building on this call to use STS approaches, we argue that STS principles can contribute to the production of ethics education materials. My poster presentation offers an example of this in the “Ethics of Algorithms” project. During this project, my colleagues and I at Drexel University composed scenarios for case study through a method we call “data grounded fiction.”

The resulting materials reflect a collaborative, co-constitutive method of ethics education that situates ethical discussion at the level of empirical practices and institutional situatedness. By paying attention to the particulars of research and work, our approach aims to evoke realistic ethical dilemmas STEM professionals encounter in their day to day practices that affect their technological design decisions.

The project had two main phases. In the first phase, we collected participant observation and open-ended interview data from on-site computer scientists and software engineers working with algorithms in the design phase of technological development. The goal was to understand the social values possessed by computer science and software engineering professionals, and which social values were operationalized in their respective professional settings. We analyzed our qualitative data set to find patterns that would suggest a consistent social value system. In doing so, we discovered that there was a consistent technical value system that served in place of a social value system between different computer science and software engineering professionals. As a result, the ethical commitments of these professionals rarely extended outside of the boundaries of their technical problem focus. The second phase of the project focused on producing teaching materials from our qualitative data. Case studies were designed with the goal of integrating ethnographic field work data into real-world scenarios where computer science and software engineering professionals face critical decisions in the design phases of technological development. The formation of these case studies required the utilization of multiple fields of expertise to create realistic scenarios that put students in ethically dubious positions, and challenged them to consider how their own personal value systems might affect their decision making in these scenarios, and what downstream ramifications those decisions might produce.

Composing and testing these cases demonstrated that ethical discussions about societal contexts can be provoked by scenarios inspired by situations observed or described in fieldwork and interviews. Trying to map high-minded moral philosophy onto the fast paced, constantly evolving world of algorithmic systems is not what we were aiming for. Building scenarios from our qualitative data— however much they draw on fictional devices like dialogue and characters—puts a student or professional in a world that they recognize, but challenges them to view it through a new perspective they might not have been taught to consider in their formal training. Situated in this position, students will consider ethical issues that go beyond the purely technical and into the realm of applied social values, and how these values are imbued into the technologies they design. In our survey data collected after testing our cases studies in actual graduate classrooms, most participants indicated that our case studies touched upon important issues in the field, and that they would be extremely useful in ethics education.

Therefore, we believe that the cases are a model for both identifying important issues pertaining to professional ethical responsibility, and developing effective curriculum content to engage with these issues.

8. Engaging Student Understandings of Engineering Ethics: Responsibly Innovating Student Learning Regarding Responsibility

Mitch Cieminski and Dean Nieusma, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

In the past several years, engineering ethics education has witnessed tremendous innovation and, along with that innovation, has experienced much-needed diversification. This diversification is seen in both instructional approaches and research agenda. On the instructional front, educators are preparing students to attend to a wide range of modalities of ethics decision making.

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On the research front, scholars are aware of this instructional diversity and are investigating the effectiveness of ethics instruction across many dimensions, including comparisons of instructional modalities and strategies for integration with technical content/practice, student competencies across instructional modalities and institutional contexts, student experiences with ethics instruction, and student understandings of the social and professional responsibilities of engineers and others.There seems to be two main schools of ethics instruction reform efforts: to either devise improved ways to teach an explicit ethics paradigm, generated by philosophers or engineering faculty, to students, often by means of “applications” or cases in which these paradigms are applied; or to attempt to generate such ethical paradigms by means of engagement with “industry stakeholders,” a group that apparently represents the often conflicting ethical needs of practicing engineers, managers, corporations, and policy groups. The latter represents a movement to engage a community in teaching engineering students. However, often missing from these models of instructional innovation and research regarding it is attention to student understandings of engineering ethics as a source of knowledge about ethics in its own right. This research endeavors to engage engineering students as stakeholders in determining what ethical paradigms and institutional changes may create meaningful ethics learning experiences and environments, coherent with multiple and diverse student experiences.

Our NSF-funded project intersects with several dimensions of engineering ethics instruction and research described above, but shifts attention from assessing the relative effectiveness of different educational approaches and modalities to how students experience and navigate the broader educational cultures and contexts within which such initiatives are offered and made meaningful. Educational culture here refers to the underlying conceptual frameworks and values that guide educational practices, including implicit or explicit theories of learning (pedagogies) and teaching (didactics); fundamental motivating principles (e.g. liberal, instrumental, service-oriented) and epistemologies (e.g., positivism, social-technical dualism, relativisms); social-professional-disciplinary status hierarchies; and more generally all processes of “meaning-making” through the acts of educating and being educated. The overarching objective of this project is to characterize how students experience the educational culture at one polytechnic institution, across a variety of programs, as it shapes their perceptions and practices concerning engineering ethics broadly construed.

This poster reports our first round of findings from the larger project, drawing on over a dozen in-depth interviews and two focus groups, primarily with first and second-year engineering students. The poster will show how most students interviewed explicitly characterized their own thinking on ethics as under-addressed or uninformed, describe how these students located ethics education in imagined “future course offerings,” and elaborate how students tended to associate “ethical decisions” with broad and distant impacts of engineering work disconnected from routine technical practice and only somewhat related to their own educational practices as engineering students. We will also describe how, when pressed to consider any dimension of their own lives where questions of personal, professional, or social responsibility arose, students tended to pivot away from “engineering” areas, notably including their course work, and instead discussed interpersonal relationships, athletics, social clubs, etc. Though these responses may seem to show a lack of student knowledge about engineering ethics, we contend that these articulations demonstrate important “lay knowledge” of engineering ethics, as opposed to the “expert knowledge” of practicing engineers and ethics researchers. We use this framework to suggest how future work in studying and modifying ethics curricula could benefit from serious engagement with student knowledge of ethics and a deeper understanding of the role of enculturation in ethics learning.

9. CCE STEM Institutional Transformation: Integrated Community-Engaged Learning and Ethical Reflection

Justin Hess and Grant Fore, Indiana University–Purdue University Indianapolis
Co-authors: Kathy Johnson, Brandon Sorge, Martin Coleman, and Julie Hatcher

To ensure the development of an exemplary generation of STEM professionals, current undergraduate STEM students must be trained in ethics in ways that effectively draw out their dispositions towards ethical thought and action. Yet, there is currently no consensus on the most appropriate or effective model for STEM ethics instruction. This poster will provide an overview and rationale for the Integrated Community-Engaged Learning and Ethical Reflection approach, or I-CELER.

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The fundamental premise of our project is that community-engaged learning contexts offer greater potential for ethical becoming than non-community engaged strategies (e.g., traditional lecture-based classes). For example, we argue that in community-engaged learning contexts there are events which instructors may utilize for prompting students’ reflection-on-action, wherein they can explore the ethicality of their behaviors and thoughts and apply otherwise abstract philosophical concepts. I-CELER seeks to support students in a relational process guided by their past experiences and learning opportunities to develop a broader ethical being.

This poster will outline a five-year Institutional Transformation grant that seeks to increase the role that community-based active pedagogies, faculty engagement, and institutional intentionality play in the formation of ethical STEM undergraduates at IUPUI. The primary goal of this NSF Cultivating Cultures of Ethical STEM project, awarded Fall 2017, is to develop interdisciplinary partnerships to build and research STEM faculty’s capacity and competency in ethical theory and community-engaged pedagogy, specifically, their ability to integrate the two in order to transform undergraduate STEM ethics education at IUPUI. This poster will describe the projects’ three Specific Aims undergirding the primary goal, as well as the strategies put forth to achieve these aims. The aims include:

  1. The Intervention – Develop a Faculty Learning Community to promote change in ethics instruction in STEM departments and in the ethical subjectivities of faculty and the undergraduates in their courses.
  2. Exploring Organizational Change – Identify and analyze the macro-level organizational outcomes and changes associated with the formation of ethical cultures of STEM, specifically those arising from the project intervention, to identify and explain the factors related to the transformation of ethics curriculum at the department level.
  3. Analyzing Individual Change – Identify and analyze the micro-level individual outcomes and changes associated with I-CELER courses to understand the processes and variables related to the ethical training and formation of STEM faculty and undergraduates.

To achieve these specific aims, we have developed an interdisciplinary partnership among three IUPUI institutes/center: the STEM Education Innovation & Research Institute (SEIRI), the Institute for American Thought (IAT), and the Center for Service and Learning (CSL). Through this partnership, and by integrating practice-oriented ethical instruction into departmental curricula and investigating the effects, we hope that STEM ethics education at our institution will be infused with a new vitality leading to (i) STEM educators who are adept at addressing ethical matters within their courses and teaching in collaboration with community partners, (ii) the production of ethically-literate, civic-minded, and empathic cohorts of undergraduate STEM students, and (iii) transformed departments that offer pioneering research-supported STEM ethics instruction. More broadly, this project will create a scalable modality for constructing departmental curricula that integrates community-engaged learning and philosophical ethics with STEM content. Hence, this project is primarily focused on faculty development, with the undergirding theory that this is the key mechanism for long-term student impact and departmental transformation.

In summary, we will describe our strategy for promoting faculty change for integrating ethical reflection into community-engaged learning in a meaningful way, including our mechanisms for evaluating the efficacy of this integration.

10. Teaching Engineering Design and Ethics through Assistive Technology

Rachel Koh, Lafayette College

Overview: In an introductory engineering design class (ES101) at Lafayette College, students partnered with a local senior center to design assistive devices for clients. In teams of three to five, students brainstormed solutions, interviewed their clients about the problem, designed and prototyped solutions, and made recommendations for a final product design.

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Engineering Ethics: In preparation for these Assistive Technology projects, students spend three weeks exploring the role of engineering in society. The purpose of this unit is twofold: (1) to help students consider what they might want to do with an engineering degree and thus what major might be a good fit for them, and (2) to facilitate students’ consideration of the role of technology in society. Topics for this unit include: Weapons and War; Algorithms and Mass Incarceration; and Disability Justice. Students engage with several different literary forms, including a graphic novel, poetry, nonfiction books, opinion pieces and news articles. In class discussions, we puzzle through the role of technology in society and discuss the roles and responsibilities the people creating that technology have. The unit culminates with a conversation about disability and aging, where students discuss what good, ethical conduct will be in their upcoming interviews, and make a plan for interviewing their clients.

Example project: A team of students was paired with a vision-impaired client who was concerned about being seen when she is out after dark. The students’ problem statement is: “Our client, Eusebia, experiences vision loss, which calls for her to use a probing cane to allow her to get around. Through our client interviews with Eusebia, we discovered that having a light incorporated in the existing probing cane design would allow her to easily use her cane to get around her house and the street at night. As a team, we also discovered that Eusebia wants the light to not only navigate in the dark but also to allow others around her to find her easily. She shared with us an anecdote of her having a hard time alerting her son where she was whenever she would get picked up in the night time. Additionally, she stressed that having the lights would also allow her to cross streets with ease, especially with the satisfaction that she is being seen by drivers.”

Conclusion: The College offers approximately twelve sections of ES101 per year, taught with different curricula and by different instructors. A study is underway, facilitated by faculty members Mary Roth and Kristin Sandra-Bernhartt, to assess the different learning outcomes across different sections of the course. These results will be ready by the time of the conference. When this course is taught again in Fall 2018, a more formal evaluation system should be used to assess the extent to which student learning outcomes, especially those related to engineering ethics, have been achieved.

11. The Development of a Hybrid Course on Ethics, Service Engineering, Society and Technology

David Che, Mount Vernon Nazarene University

Problem Statement:
The development of a hybrid/combo course to address a multitude of ABET assessment outcomes that are related to contemporary/society issues of technology, engineering ethics, service engineering and Christian worldviews are introduced. Traditionally, these topics are covered in separate courses. For example, some engineering programs offer a 2 or 3 credit engineering ethics course. Some programs require or encourage students to take a course related to “society and technology”. Some mission minded schools would have “service engineering” courses or course components.

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The problem with an already packed engineering curriculum is sometimes we do not have the luxury to fit all these courses in the 128-136 credit hours of a typical engineering curriculum.

Course Content Development:
This course was first developed at Anderson University, Anderson, IN in Spring of 2016. Textbooks used were Hold Paramount and Society and Technological Change. Service-learning project was developing a hand-tool for cleaning a Panini bread machine at the AU Cafeteria. One of the lessons learned was that the service project needs to be small in scope so it can be done in a short amount of time. In this case, it is a week-long project.

Supplementary reading used: “Cultivating Virtue in Pursuit of Knowledge” by J. Derek Halvorson, TableTalkmagazine, Ligonier Ministries and R. C. Sproul, May 2016, pages 68-69

At Mount Vernon Nazarene University, a 1 credit hour Engineering Ethics course was taught using Responsible Technology: A Christian Perspective book. We only had time to cover the first four chapters and assigned the fifth chapter as reading material for an exam. The S-L project was create CAD models of a gift wrapper invented by a local inventor. Student feedback on the project was very positive. This course was taught in Spring of 2017.

12. Impacts of Community Engagement Workshop

Shakira Hobbs, University of Virginia;
Co-authors: Rider Foley, Jameson Wetmore, Amy Landis, Matthew Harsh, and Thomas Woodson

Oftentimes, community based projects fail, even though successful engineers may direct the initiative. Engineers are taught to solve technological problems; however, basic community engagement techniques are not embedded in their curriculum. To address this problem, a team of faculty from five different universities developed a community engagement workshop. The workshop introduces science and engineering graduate students and early professionals to the complexities and challenges of community engagement and development.

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Throughout the two-day workshop, participants engage in a variety of exercises that teach them to listen to their community partners, look beyond the technology, and empower the community. This poster/presentation describes the workshop’s learning objectives, design, activities and results from the evaluation. The results from this presentation will help other educators develop courses and programs to train holistic engineers.

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Registration for the Ethics and Responsible Innovation in STEM Workshop.

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Engaged Scholarship, by which the activities of academe meet the needs of external communities and vice versa (Van de Ven 2007), is a form of experiential learning that can serve as a bridge in linking students with real-world contexts for the issues and problems they are studying.

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Peterson (2009) describes its usefulness as “providing a well-rounded education for students, a widening of the university’s knowledge base, and an empowering investment in community change,” and argues that there is a needed shift in higher education in this direction “in order to produce socially responsible students who are able to engage with the critical problems of our times.”

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