EESE Collaborative Research: Energy Ethics in
Science and Engineering Education
Project period: 2011 – 2013
Principal Investigator: Rachelle Hollander, National Academy of Engineering
Principal Investigator: Clark Miller, CSPO
Co-Principal Investigator: Joseph Herkert, CSPO
This project is funded by the National Science Foundation and is a collaborative project of the National Academy of Engineering (NAE) and Arizona State University (ASU). It takes a problem-oriented approach to ethics education, focused on the international issue of energy in the 21st century. This project will examine ethical aspects of international change in energy research, infrastructure, and provision in the 21st century, in the context of ethics education in science and engineering. Developments in Federal policy and programs for ethics in graduate education in science and engineering in the U.S. have created many innovations at the nation’s institutions of higher education. This project will build on those accomplishments, piloting a new approach to interdisciplinary, problem-focused education that incorporates ethical perspectives on energy into the knowledge base in order to address such real-world challenges as fashioning a just, sustainable energy transition.
Current policy discussions in the United States stress the need for energy system change, even transformation, if national and global goals for justice and sustainability are to be met. This project examines energy ethics issues for the responsible conduct of science and engineering and in the intersections of science, engineering, technology and society, emphasizing potential scenarios for the United States, while acknowledging the critical roles other nations and international institutions play in the future of energy. It develops new research and educational activities involving graduate students in interdisciplinary research programs.
Recent reports about America's energy future from The National Academies focus mainly on technological options for improving America's energy supply. In its first year, this project will synthesize and augment research findings and educational materials about ethical aspects of options for improving energy supply, distribution and use in the United States; develop a more inclusive model that examines technological and sociological plausibility as well as ethical desirability of energy options; and develop materials and approaches that examine issues of research ethics in domains of energy research and development, so as to promote attention to these issues in graduate and post-doctoral education in these fields.
In the second year, it will implement and evaluate energy ethics research and education components in graduate programs at ASU. The third year includes: a workshop at the National Academy of Engineering to raise the visibility among energy science and policy audiences of the need for expanding ethics education in energy fields, disseminate project results to relevant educators and practitioners and initiate a larger strategy for ensuring the dissemination and incorporation of project findings in science and engineering education through diverse pathways; and a National Institute on Energy, Ethics, and Society (NIEES) that engages fifteen graduate students from energy research programs around the nation in a week-long program to prepare them for leadership in the fields of energy ethics and energy ethics education. Also in the final year, the project workshop at the NAE will raise the visibility among energy science and policy audiences of the need for expanding ethics education in energy fields.