NIEES Curriculum Description
The week-long training will consist of a series of talks, facilitated small group discussions, individual and group project brainstorming, and field trips to engage graduate students and post-docs from energy research in the ethical dimensions of their work. Topics will focus on US energy choices and systems but will likely involve some international discussion.
Background and Overview:
These talks at the beginning of the institute will inform students about terms and concepts in ethics and socio-technical systems, thereby allowing them later in the week to apply this information to the problems in energy research.
Energy and Socio-technical Systems:
- Historical Dimensions of Energy Use Development
- Social Influences on Energy Use Development
- Energy Systems Mapping Exercise
- Community Participation in Research
- Role of National Academy of Engineering and Technical Societies (NAE Grand Challenges)
- Public and Private Sector Engagement
- Examining the Mix: addressing the ethical and social dimensions of traditional and alternative energy sources
This session on Energy Systems as Complex Socio-Technical Systems will contextualize energy research within a societal context by introducing the framework of complex socio-technical systems. Real-world and historical examples will illustrate the economic and geographic scope of energy systems, and demonstrate how energy systems inevitably mix social and technical elements. Special attention will be given to the role of ethical issues in energy transitions, noting the ways emerging energy technologies heighten the demand for scientists and engineers able to deal with the ethical aspects of their work.
- Introduction to Ethics
- Main Themes: Public health, respect for place, justice, community engagement
- Tools, Codes, and other Resources for Dealing with Ethical Issues
- Nuffield Council on Ethics Principles
This session will provide an introduction to basic ethics concepts for identifying and critically engaging in ethical issues. This introduction will orient students to the purpose of the course, and describe how major lines of ethical thought can be applied to different kinds of problems relevant to energy research.
Ethical and Social Issues in Energy:
Additional problem-centered talks will pilot innovative instructional methods to help students identify and address ethical problems related to energy research. They will teach students to 1) recognize energy technologies as components of complex, dynamic socio-technical systems, 2) understand how energy systems require ethical judgments involving conflicting values and interests, and 3) become familiar with and use theoretical and practical tools for addressing the ethical issues in their current and future work as energy researchers.
Incorporating Ethical and Social Dimensions Into Energy Research:
- Designing research projects to address social and ethical dimensions
- Enhancing societal impact statements
- Interdisciplinary funding opportunities
- Interdisciplinary collaboration – lessons learned
In addition to the talks, breakout sessions, brainstorming sessions, and field trips, the workshop will offer practical advice to benefit students and faculty mentors in their day-to-day research. This practical advice will include a bibliography and explication of supplemental materials for current and future reference on the topics discussed at the institute. In addition a few of the sessions will focus on practical advice related to: enhancing grant applications in fulfillment of the NSF criterion II on broader impacts; designing research projects to include social and ethical dimensions; funding options for interdisciplinary research projects; expansion of marketability and career options in academia and industry; lessons learned from interdisciplinary collaboration; and sources to consult when familiarizing oneself with organizational and professional ethics for practicing researchers.
Talks will be complemented with small breakout groups of 4-6 individuals led by trained facilitators. The purpose of these breakout activities will be to engage students in collaborative, critical thinking exercises that will build on their existing level of knowledge and interest. Several breakout sessions will draw together the formal instruction from the talks with the students' personal and professional experiences as researchers, consumers, and citizens. This will allow student to work through the three aspects of identifying and addressing energy ethics issues described above.
Individual and Group Project Sessions:
- Individual and small group time and also presentation time to the whole group
- Examining project objectives in light of institute learning
- Revising or further development of project based on learning
- Develop plans for activities at home institution
Individual and group brainstorming sessions will allow students to examine their project proposals in light of what they have learned during the institute. In addition, time will be reserved to allow students to revise and further develop their project ideas and then to present and get feedback from the seminar faculty and fellow students. Group brainstorming sessions will encourage students to develop plans for activities back at their home institutions.
Field Trips and Keynote Speeches:
Field trips during the institute will allow students to visit energy research facilities and talk with energy researchers dealing with specific ethical and social issues. Keynote speeches will involve perspectives from industry, academic researchers, and stakeholders.
Cite this page:
"NIEES Curriculum Description"
Online Ethics Center for Engineering
National Academy of Engineering
Accessed: Wednesday, May 22, 2013