Skip to main content

Activities

The History & Ethics Program engages in a variety of activities each year to further its mission of being a catalyst for consideration of social and ethical issues in engineering. See below for the current year’s activities, or visit the Archives for past years.

Quick Navigation:

Events

The History & Ethics Program organizes a number of events each year to stimulate conversation in the Cornell community about the history and ethics of engineering, as well as teaching strategies in this crucial yet underdeveloped area of the engineering curriculum.

Lecture and Lunch & Learn with Daniel Pomeroy

Public Lecture: 3:30 PM, March 14, Phillips Hall 219. Free and open to all. More information on the Cornell Events page.

Dr. Pomeroy is Co-Director of the Scientific Citizenship Initiative (SCi) at Harvard University. SCi is a lab that develops new curriculum and experiential learning opportunities for STEM graduate students. SCi creates, tests, and exports innovative educational programs to enhance professional careers and elevate the depth and degree of meaningful interactions between STEM professionals and society. Dr. Pomeroy will speak about the development of SCi and its distinctive simulation-based approach to experiential learning.

A brown bag discussion for interested faculty, postdocs, and graduate students will follow at 12:00 PM, March 15. Register with this form.

Sue & Harry Bovay Lecture in the History and Ethics of Engineering

Since 2003, the History & Ethics Program has hosted an annual lecture with a distinguished guest speaker. The 2024 Bovay Lecture will be delivered by Jon A. Leydens, Professor of Engineering Education Research in the Division of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences at the Colorado School of Mines. More information on the Cornell Events page.

Time & Date: 4:30 PM, May 7, 2024
Location: Kimball Hall B11

Visit the Archives for information about past Bovay Lectures.

Undergraduate Symposium on Ethics in Engineering Practice

In Spring 2024, students in ENGRG 3600 (see below) will share their research projects at a poster symposium that is open to the public. Come discuss ethical issues across many different disciplines of engineering, from artificial intelligence to weapons systems to genetic modification. This event received financial support from the Sidney & Anne Braudy and Louis & Edith Manker Fund.

Time & Date: 3:00 PM to 4:00 PM, May 6, 2024
Location: Snee Hall Atrium (ground floor)

Teaching

Undergraduate education is the central activity of the History & Ethics program. There are three core components of our teaching: the first-year seminar, undergraduate courses on engineering ethics, and guest sessions in engineering courses.

ENGRG 1050 First-Year Engineering Seminar

Every year, the History & Ethics Program visits the first-year engineering seminar to introduce incoming engineering students to the importance of ethical reasoning in their field of study and practice. In Fall 2023, Dr. Goetze delivered a short lecture on how engineering failures can be attributed either to technical mistakes or to ethical mistakes, and that these two skillsets are each essential to doing engineering well. Students then discussed generative artificial intelligence—computer applications such as ChatGPT or DALL-E, which can produce text or images in response to prompts. Students each received a card with an ethically important value on it, such as generosity, justice, or nature, and were challenged to use their reflection on the values they received to decide whether generative AI is good or bad.

ENGRG 3600 Ethical Issues in Engineering Practice

Cross-listed in Philosophy and in Science and Technology Studies, this course provides a broad overview of engineering ethics. The course surveys a range of ethical issues that arise in professional engineering, and provides discussion- and writing-based practice in analyzing and addressing them. Using normative frameworks from professional codes, philosophical ethics, value-sensitive design, feminist theory, and science & technology studies, the course engages with a series of historical, current, and fictional case studies. Specific topics to be discussed may include: privacy, consumer rights, smart cities, geoengineering, artificial intelligence, and cloning. Instruction is through a mix of lectures and discussions.

Guest Sessions

In the 2023–24 academic year, Dr. Goetze visited the following courses to deliver guest sessions:

  • ENGRI 1160 / CEE 1160 Modern Structures. Topic: Accessibility, Ableism, and Structural Design
  • ENGRI 1130 / CEE 1130 Sustainable Engineering of Energy, Water, Soil, and Air Resources. Topic: Environmental and Ecological Justice
  • ENGRC 3027 Cross-cultural Communication and Ethics in Engineering Workplaces. Topic: Value-Sensitive Design
  • ENGRC 3500 Engineering Communications. Topic: Value-Sensitive Design and Difficult Conversations
  • MAE 4300 Engineers and Society. Topic: Value-Sensitive Stakeholder Analysis
  • CHEME 4620 Chemical Engineering Design. Topic: Ethics in Chemical Engineering.
  • EAS 5060 Earth & Atmospheric Sciences Workshops on How to Succeed. Topic: Solar Geoengineering
  • MAE 6130 Engineered Living Materials. Topic: Engineered Living Materials, Disaster Relief, and Ethical Decision-Making