interviews and documentary materi-
als to study two types of morally exem-
plary individuals in computing: those
oriented toward craft (for example,
computer accessibility for disabled us-
ers); and those oriented toward reform
(for example, computing and privacy).
These types represent different moral
ecologies, which are environments in
which individuals can develop ethically
exemplary careers. Characteristics in a
“model” of ethical performance over
time include “moral ecologies, indi-
vidual personality, relevant skills and
knowledge, and the integration of mo-
rality into the individual self.”
By understanding such complexi-
ties it is possible to assess the limita-
tions in approaches to ethics edu-
cation that focus only on individual
decision points. Training in the skills
and knowledge necessary to address
particular ethical issues in research
provides important guidance for
analysis of particular situations, but it
cannot inoculate individuals against
questionable practices. A performance
approach requires the evaluation of
professional ethical behavior over the
course of a career, and encourages an
ethics perspective that goes beyond
compliance toward the development
of ethical ideals. For more information
Ideas emerging from the workshop
Context ˲ : Academic institutions
should sho w they have established wide-ranging programs to stimulate and reward ethically appropriate behavior.
Learning ˲ : Student participation
should be mandatory and a repository
of information about best practices
should be created with a plan for dissemination of these materials to colleges and universities.
Criteria for programs and activities ˲ :
Successful programs involve research
faculty using case studies and interactive formats supplemented with appropriate online materials.
Interactivity ˲ : Students have a facility for accessible and interactive online
resources. Ethics-focused instructional materials must reflect this.
Mentoring ˲ : Science and engineer-
ing faculty and faculty with ethics edu-
cation responsibilities should work
together on mentoring postdoctoral
fellows and graduate students at the
Developing the academic infrastructures that can encourage and support
engineering volunteerism is a significant challenge. Passino noted that the
definition of a profession has always
included public service. Applied to the
engineering disciplines, this definition implies that some portion of the
engineering community must focus
on serving society. Not every engineer
must satisfy this criterion, but the profession as a whole must.
Passano provided examples of class
assignments for teaching ethics and
professionalism in the design of projects that meet community design constraints or address global issues, and
research papers on subjects such as
assessment of corporate citizenship
programs and engineering volunteerism projects, evaluating codes of ethics, and so on.
To accomplish such goals, Passino
argued for an infrastructure that goes
beyond academia to involve professional organizations, government, and
industry. He discussed as an example
ECOS (Engineers for Community Service), a student-run organization at The
Ohio State University that links students with sponsors of local and international service projects that promote
For more about the ECOS-spon-sored activities, see www.ecos.osu.
edu for project descriptions; for more
about his activities, see www.ece.osu.
Participants in the 2008 workshop
on engineering and social and environmental justice, and sustainability
agreed the discussion should continue at the 2010 APPE Annual Meeting,
through a mini-conference titled “
Engineering Towards a More Just and
Sustainable World.” Those interested
in attending can learn more by checking the CEES or APPE Web sites.
I intend to explore ethics from many
perspectives in future installments of
this column and encourage and welcome any suggestions readers wish to
Rachelle hollander ( email@example.com) is the director
of the Center for Engineering, Ethics, and society at the
u.s. national Academy of Engineering in Washington, D.C.