Research Papers

Document Type

Conference Paper


The paper reflects on the use of critical realism as a theoretical lens for examining the provision of ethics in engineering programmes and putting forward recommendations for the development of engineering ethics education. It is based on a large scale 4-year mixed methods study in which 23 engineering programmes from 6 higher education institutions in Ireland participated. The methods used include documentary analysis of programme documents, course syllabus and accreditation reports, interviews with instructors and members of accreditation panels, participant observation at accreditation events and a descriptive statistical analysis of the numerical grade used by engineering programmes to self-assess their provision of ethics. The paper addresses two research questions: 1) what are the key challenges in the provision of engineering ethics education, considering the 23 programmes analysed? 2) what recommendations emerge to address these challenges? To respond to the research questions, given the stratified ontology presupposed by critical realism, the research study focused on 4 different levels of analysis: individuals (engineering ethics teachers), institutions (engineering programmes) and policy (national accreditation body). The main insight of the paper is that change strategies need to address all levels and treat them as intertwined in order to develop comprehensively the education for engineering ethics.


Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-Share Alike 4.0 International License.