Transformations: Ethics and design

Richard Devon, Andrew Lau, Philip McReynolds, Andras Gordon

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


This paper will focus on an ethics curriculum that has been developed for design projects. The rationale behind it is discussed and some preliminary feedback from students is reviewed. The curriculum for the design projects is distinctive in several fundamental ways. These departures from more traditional views of "engineering ethics" were not come by easily and they have taken many years to develop. 1) We view all design as necessarily ethical and the purpose of ethics curricula is not the addition of ethics but an enhancement of the ethical imagination. 2) While traditional ethics often focus on the individual, decisions in technology are made collectively - including, of course, people who are not engineers. So, our approach includes an emphasis on social ethics, i. e, the social arrangements for making decisions. 3) Technology represents transformations of society and of the environment. We encourage students to understand this and to look both upstream and downstream in the product or service life cycle from the design focal point. 4) Most technology involves transformations that are global in scope and this is embraced by the curriculum. 5) We stress design because most of the important decisions about technology are taken or mirrored there. 6) Finally, design affects everyone but not everyone affects design. We take this as the defining ethical tension in design.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)10727-10733
Number of pages7
JournalASEE Annual Conference Proceedings
StatePublished - 2001
Event2001 ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition: Peppers, Papers, Pueblos and Professors - Albuquerque, NM, United States
Duration: Jun 24 2001Jun 27 2001

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Engineering


Dive into the research topics of 'Transformations: Ethics and design'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this