Exploring Engineering Faculty Experiences and Networks in Integrating Ethics Education: Insights from a University-Wide Curriculum Reform

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Virginia Tech


In today's globalized and technology-driven landscape, engineers wield unprecedented influence. As a response to calls from engineering accrediting and professional organizations, engineering educators have begun to further emphasize the importance of ethical decision-making within the curriculum. However, despite numerous attempts to integrate ethics, there remains a lack of consensus on effective strategies, particularly for larger-scale initiatives. This research, utilizing Lattuca and Stark's (2009) Academic Plan model, explores the Pathways curriculum reform at Virginia Tech, a university-wide initiative aimed at integrating intercultural awareness and ethical reasoning across general education courses. Through a case study methodology, semi-structured interviews were conducted with 12 faculty in the College of Engineering. Participants shared insights on the barriers encountered, resources utilized, and perceptions of ethical culture within their various academic environments. Additionally, participants described their network interactions within and beyond the curriculum reform initiative. Findings suggest faculty leverage existing networks during curriculum reform, with identified barriers categorized as influence-driven and resource-driven. Integrating these insights into the Academic Plan model offers a nuanced, process-oriented understanding of curricular change.



engineering education, ethics, curriculum reform, barriers, social network analysis, case study