Starting an ethics programme in your university

Below is a suggested list of actionable steps in order to implement an ethics programme in your faculty for the first time

Identify the ethical challenges specific for your domain

Assemble a working group of stakeholders such as teaching staff, students, NGO representatives, industry representatives, etc. and identify what are the major ethical challenges that are specific to the domain of your faculty/ institute (engineering, agriculture, medical sciences, policy, etc.). It is essential that in this committee there should be at least one ethics specialist.

This group will attempt to make a comprehensive list of the major ethical challenges pertaining to the domain under investigation.

Cluster the ethical problems into course packages/ modules

After having identified the ethical problems you want the students to be aware of, make another thinking group composed of ethics and educational specialists who will brainstorm on how to cluster the problems into related course packages and course modules. Course packages and modules could be more theoretical, abstract level - for example introduction to ethics of technology - while others could be focused on a specific application, such as ethics of autonomous vehicles.

Train the educational staff into basic ethical theories

The educational staff composed by non-specialists in ethics needs to be trained concerning the basics of ethical theory so that they can work in co-teaching teams with the ethics specialists.

Assemble teaching teams

It is recommended to have teaching teams consisting of an ethics specialist and a domain-specific specialist who will work together in crafting the course materials and the curricula.

Start a pilot-phase by adding one ethics course/module in the compulsory programme

Start a pilot-phase by adding one ethics course/module in the compulsory programme for your students both at BSc and MSc levels. Use this first course in order to test for educational methods and approaches which work best for your students. Work closely with the students and listen to their input all through the academic year. 

Gather feed-back and refine, readjust, re-design

At the end of the year, systematically gather input from the students who have taken the course and re-assess the programme. Gather detailed feedback from the educational staff involved in teaching these courses. Brainstorm on ways to improve the programme and to make it more effectively for your students and for the stakeholders at large. After using this feedback in re-designing your approach, you can start deploying ethics courses and modules on a wider scale in the faculty.