In July 2017, the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) adopted Canon 8 into its Code of Ethics, culminating a process that started in 2015. ASCE created the Code of Ethics to serve as a basis from which to communicate and affirm standards of professionalism for all civil engineers. However, the prior code lacked language that directly conveyed diversity as ethics, specifically with regard to discrimination and harassment. To address this gap, the Committee on Diversity and Inclusion (CDI) partnered with the Committee on Ethical Practice (CEP) to develop Canon 8, which was the first new canon added to the ASCE Code of Ethics in over 65 years.
Canon 8 addresses fair and equitable treatment of not only fellow engineers, but also people in the communities we serve. One element that distinguishes ASCE’s Canon 8 from other engineering societies’ codes of ethics is the requirement for engineers to “consider the diversity of the community, and … endeavor in good faith to include diverse perspectives in the planning and performance of their professional services.” In order to accomplish this optimally, we must begin to educate our students to practice engineering in this manner.
The forthcoming changes to the ABET Engineering Accreditation Commission (EAC) Criterion 3 reflect the need for diversity and inclusion in many of the student outcomes as well as in the definitions that precede the criterion. For example, Student Outcome 2 requires that students’ design solutions meet specific needs and include factors such as “public health and safety and global, cultural, social, environmental, economic, and other factors as appropriate to the discipline.” By ABET EAC’s definition, “design” includes constraints such as accessibility and legal considerations, both of which are strongly connected to diversity and inclusion. Additionally, Student Outcome 7 requires students “to function effectively as a member or leader of a team,” and by ABET EAC’s definition, “a team consists of more than one person working toward a common goal and should include individuals of diverse backgrounds, skills, or perspectives consistent with ABET’s policies and positions on diversity and inclusion.”
For engineering programs looking to make a strong commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion, this paper describes the development of Canon 8 to help guide the decision-making process in implementing ABET EAC’s Criterion 3. We describe the motivation behind Canon 8 and the feedback it received, how it compares to other engineering societies’ canons or principles related to diversity, and how it relates to forthcoming ABET EAC criteria. We envision that institutions will encounter similar types of scenarios in their implementation process and this paper can serve as a useful guide for navigating these scenarios if they occur.
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