Learning lines BSc

The programme introduced an ethics learning line ... It runs throughout the programme and teaches students important principles in ethics. (…) The panel is ... very positive about the increased attention for ethics ... within the programme.

Assessment report BSc Civil Engineering; 25 July 2019 - Delft University of Technology

The ethics learning lines aim at fostering basic competencies in ethics (and philosophy of science, scientific integrity and diversity) for students. This is done by embedding ethics into the standard curriculum, involving exemplary cases, connected to fitting, existing courses, cooperation with teachers of respective faculties, and use of online teaching material.

Ethics Learning Trajectory

It is increasingly recognized that engineers should be aware of the ethical aspects of their work. Also the Dutch Organization for Universities (VSNU) has identified “ethical professionalism” as one of the four aspects of academic training. In order to provide the necessary ethical training, it was agreed by all Directors of Education of Delft University of Technology that all Bachelor students should require the following ethical competences:

• Moral sensitivity: the ability to recognize social and ethical issues in engineering and technology;
• Professional and social responsibility: the ability to recognize the professional responsibility of engineers and students, to analyze situations in terms of responsibility distributions and to allocate responsibilities fairly;
• Moral analysis skills: the ability to analyze the (moral) impact of engineering work in terms of facts, values, stakeholders and their interests;
• Moral imagination: the ability to use moral imagination to discover new options for action in the light of (conflicting) moral values and the relevant facts;
• Moral judgement and decision-making skills: the ability to recognize the ethically relevant elements in different assessment tools and frameworks; the ability to make a decision in a given context, based on a reflection on different ethical theories or frameworks including professional ethics and common sense morality;
• Moral argumentation skills: the ability to morally justify one’s actions and to discuss and evaluate them together with other engineers and non-engineers.

Additionally, these competences are also an entry requirement for the specialized MSc ethics and technology courses in the TUD master programs.

Ethics an integral part of BSc curriculum

The ethics competencies in the bachelor can be taught via a stand-alone ethics course but also through a so-called “integrated learning line”. The Civil Engineering bachelor program is the first program where it was chosen to include ethics in the curriculum through a learning line. The ethics learning line is a 3EC trajectory integrated in courses throughout the 3 years of the curriculum. The ethics-related activities in the assigned courses are assessed as part of the course grade. Additionally, specific ethics assessments are collected in a portfolio that the students need to compose during the bachelor program. The learning line is assessed through a reflection on and group discussion about the portfolio at the end of the bachelor program. As of the academic year 2016/17 and later, the ethics learning line is a mandatory component of the curriculum, which means that those students that started in 2016/17 and later only receive their bachelor diploma after having completed all the activities related to the learning line.