Award Announcement - Collaborative Research: Efficacy of Macroethics Education in Engineering

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Award Materials

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This award by the Cultivating Cultures of Ethical STEM program in the Directorate for Social, Behavioral & Economic Sciences is managed by the Biomaterials program in the Division of Materials Research. The goal of this collaborative project at University of Colorado at Boulder, Tufts University and Seattle University is to evaluate the various ways in which macroethics is taught in STEM topics (both in and out of the classroom), and determine the most effective methods that can then be adopted by others. In order for STEM areas to reach its full potential to benefit society, students must be prepared to engage in broad considerations of the ethical issues that face the profession. Established codes of conduct describe standards for professional behavior, but these largely relate to individual actions associated with individual projects, so-called 'micro'-ethical considerations. But engineering and other STEM areas fall short of its societal duties, if it ignores 'macro'-ethical challenges - ethical issues that must consider societal implications of technology as well as the collective responsibility of the STEM profession. Macroethics includes issues such as sustainability, poverty and underdevelopment, security and peace, social justice, bioethics, nanoscience, and social responsibility. The extent to which STEM students graduate with an understanding of macroethical issues is unclear, and is in need of organization. The research will start with a large survey of STEM faculty across the U.S., followed by interviews of selected faculty who are effectively using a diversity of methods to teach a range of macroethical issues. In addition, a set of case studies that can serve as models for others will be developed. Best practices that are identified will be propagated through STEM education via a faculty training workshop and online resources.