The Delft approach

Teaching ethics to engineering students

Since about 20 years The Ethics and Philosophy of Technology Section (TPM) provides ethics teaching at TU Delft.

Our approach is based on recognizing that engineering students do not typically have a humanistic training and are not used to reading long texts and interpreting them. Therefore the task of teaching ethics to engineering students might seem challenging at first. However, we recognize the strong skills of our students, namely their ability to solve problems and find novel solutions,their passion for their future domain which can also fuel their curiosity to explore the ethical dilemmas and problems.

Thus, our approach fosters problem-based learning grounded on case studies and exercises which are taken from the daily practice of engineering work, as up to date as possible. We work in close collaboration with our colleagues from the engineering departments so that they integrate moments of ethical reflection all throughout their curricula, such that students do not perceive ethical problems as a separate domain. We aim to instill important skills and values in our students such that ethical reflection becomes habitual to their everyday practice, a way of life.

Our courses are tailor-made for each engineering program. We provide lectures, tutorials, exam and essay questions, and we developed the teaching material together with experts from engineering education program.

In the following three sections you can find more details concerning the reasoning behind our educational philosophy, the educational goals and the challenges faced in teaching ethics to engineers.

Challenges and difficulties