Articles  |    |  December 24, 2019

The Importance of Ethics in Modern Universities of Technology

Article by Behnam Taebi, Jeroen van den Hoven and Stephanie J. Bird.
Published in Science and Engineering Ethics.


The twenty-first century will pose substantial and unprecedented challenges to modern societies. The world population is growing while societies are pursuing higher levels of global well-being. The rise of artificial intelligence (AI) and autonomous systems, increasing energy demands and related problems of climate change are only a few of the many major issues humanity is facing in this century. Universities of technology have an essential role to play in meeting these concerns by generating scientific knowledge, achieving technological breakthroughs, and educating scientists and engineers to think and work for the public good.

The aim of this Special Issue of Science and Engineering Ethics is to examine some of the ethical issues that arise for institutions of higher education in the field of engineering and applied science in meeting these challenges. In so doing, it highlights two specific areas. First, it considers the ethical issues that arise for institutions of higher education in the area of engineering and applied science. Its focus is on specific issues at universities of technology, more specifically on the relationships both of individual academic researchers, and of institutions themselves, with industrial partners, commerce and innovation in for-profit organizations. The second area of focus is the matter of educating a new generation of engineers and scientists so that they will be equipped to deal with the future challenges that mankind faces, while also observing the highest moral standards of academic conduct and research integrity. [ . . . ]