Graduate Pedagogy for Ethical Dimensions of Coupled Natural and Human Systems Research

Project: Research project

Project Details


Scientific research on interactions between humans and their environments requires a robust understanding of the ethical issues relevant to such interactions. This project is designed to ensure that graduate students in science and engineering have the knowledge and skills needed to address ethical issues in their research. The goals of the project are to create, pilot, and assess seven curricular modules on topics involving human-environment interactions such as biofuels, water quality, genetic modification, environmental toxicity, climate prediction, industrial choices of raw materials, and renewable energy sources. The research will also include the development and assessment of faculty capacity building strategies; this will include training science and engineering faculty to effectively teach these topics, as well as training ethics faculty to partner with science and engineering faculty to implement such curriculum and develop new or revised modules. The curriculum and pedagogy will be piloted, assessed, and implemented at Penn State University, a major research university with top graduate programs in science and engineering, and North Carolina A&T, a premier historically black university and the #1 producer of minority graduates in science and engineering in the U.S. The curriculum will be included within an online research ethics course that will be available to graduate students across the country through Penn State World Campus.

This research will advance discovery of emerging ethical issues in research concerning human-environment interactions and will contribute to the implementation of high quality and topically relevant ethics training for graduate students in the sciences and engineering. The study is also designed to determine how to effectively provide science and engineering faculty with the knowledge and skills needed to incorporate ethics training in their classes. The products of this study will be widely disseminated through faculty workshops, conference presentations, publications, and online distribution.

Effective start/end date8/15/117/31/15


  • National Science Foundation: $296,736.00


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