ENGINEERS’ ENVIRONMENTAL RESPONSIBILITY AND PROFESSIONAL ENGINEERING CODES OF ETHICS IN CANADA

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Date
2024-05-28
Authors
Randall, Emma Jane
Keyword
Engineering Education , Engineering Ethics , Ethics , Engineering , Environment , Environmental Responsibility , Sustainability , Professional Ethics , Professional Codes of Ethics , Engineering Ethics Education , Sustainable Engineering , Engineering Sustainability , Environmental Ethics , Professional Engineering Codes of Ethics , Engineering Disciplines , Engineering Regulation
Abstract
Engineers Canada states that engineers must, “Hold paramount the safety, health and welfare of the public and the protection of the environment and promote health and safety within the workplace” [1]. This is frequently the only guideline directly related to the environment included in Canadian provincial and territorial Professional Engineering Codes of Ethics (PECoE) which are a primary resource for teaching engineering ethics [1]; notably, Ontario’s PECoE currently does not explicitly mention the environment [2]. Minimal formal ethical guidelines indicate interpretations of engineers’ professional responsibility with respect to the environment may vary in both industry and engineering education. With the growing focus on sustainable development alongside escalating environmental crises, a thorough investigation of engineers’ professional ethical responsibility to the environment is time-sensitive and necessary [3]. The purpose of this study is to improve understanding of how engineers and engineering students view and interpret their professional ethical responsibility to the environment and PECoE in a Canadian context. Key conclusions from this research are that there was 100% consensus from participants that engineers do have a professional ethical responsibility regarding the environment, that there is significant variance by engineering discipline with respect exposure to engineering ethics education and the inclusion of environment, that case studies with relevant content are valuable modes of encouraging critical thinking with respect to engineering ethics, and that there is a need to explicitly include reference to the environment in the Ontario PECoE. The ultimate goal of this research is to aid the development of engineering ethics and sustainability curricula, as well as Professional Engineering Codes of Ethics.
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