Ethics and diversity are critical components of engineering training and practice, but most undergraduate engineering programs do not address these issues in-depth. In this work-in-progress, we describe the design and implementation of a novel curriculum that allows early engineering students to explore the interplay of diversity and ethics in an engineering context. Importantly, our curriculum can be incorporated into any engineering course, and thus may serve as a model for educators in any engineering discipline.
Although upper-division bioethics courses may also address the relationship between diversity and ethics, our curriculum uniquely engages early engineering students in an introductory bioengineering course. We chose to implement this curriculum in a large introductory course for several reasons, including: 1) to provide an accessible opportunity for underrepresented students who are interested in engineering to engage early in their undergraduate careers, as these students are less likely than other early-interest students to eventually attain engineering degrees; 2) to impress upon a broad audience of early engineering students that diversity and ethics are critical topics in engineering; and 3) to underscore the importance of these issues by integrating diversity and ethics into engineering coursework instead of presenting this material as an optional add-on or special topic.
We aim to engage early engineering students in meaningful discussion about the intersecting roles of diversity and ethics in bioengineering, enabling them to apply course competencies to their future engineering practice. Our learning objectives include:
1) Summarize key case studies regarding diversity-related ethics in STEM
2) Identify how cultural concepts of race, gender, sexuality and disability have shaped scientific thought (and vice versa) through history
3) Critically evaluate literature regarding ethics and diversity in bioengineering
4) Analyze how engineers handle implicit bias during research and design processes
5) Propose approaches to promote ethics and diversity in engineering practice
Course activities will cover the importance of diversity and ethics competency in engineering; historic and current case studies of diversity-related ethical issues in bioengineering, and how historical perceptions and contexts still influence modern scientific thinking and engineering design; advocacy and representation of minorities in engineering; evidence supporting the value of inclusive teaching and diverse teams; and best practices for advocacy and representation of diverse peoples in engineering.
We will assess the effectiveness of these teaching innovations through written student surveys, student performance on assignments, and instructor observations. Additional supporting data will be provided by excerpts of student work. Example curricular materials will be provided at the conference, including lectures, assignments, reading lists, and in-class discussion prompts.
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