The third speaker in the panel I moderated at the STS conference was Fei Guo from Southeast University in Nanjing, China and the University of Wisconsin-Madison who spoke about The Absense of Engineering Ethics in China and its Solutions: An STS Perspective.
Fei began by explaining there are no engineering ethics in China. As a sub-discipline, the term specifies the responsibilities of engineers as professionals. However, most interesting to many of us in the room was hearing about the difference between how engineers are perceived in the U.S. and China. In Chinese tradition with roots in Confucius philosophy, engineers ‘build‘ rather than ‘design‘ and the profession is largely ignored. Hence, he described an absence of engineering books and courses.
Fei believes that given the modernization of China, engineering ethics must be introduced. He outlined a model to do so based on the example of the transformation from microethics to macroethics in U.S. engineering and the developments of STS. His proposal includes:
1) Highlighting engineering studies and practice, demonstrating creative characteristics in engineering
2) Introducing a general curriculum to popularize the multiple images of engineering and building macroethics in engineering education
3) Reforming the Chinese library and publication system, thereby encouraging publication and broader distribution of general engineering works.
While this is not an topic I’m familiar with, it raises some intriguing questions about persistence of S&T fields and definitions in other parts of the world. Is globalization moving us toward standardization? Probably. Does it matter?
Links to this Post
- The Design Part of Design/Build « Construction Knowledge | April 3, 2009