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    For example some specific examples from our students are following:

  • "I don’t want to be treated as a slave or robot.”
  • “These people get paid well to work.”
  • “Some work hard, while others surf the Internet?”
  • “As long as my boss doesn’t see me …”
  • “I minimize the browser …”
  • “Maybe someone opens an e-mail with a virus …"
  • “Maybe the person doesn’t have a PC at home?”
  • “Isn’t this similar to using the phone to call a friend?”
  • “Everybody does it!”

This exercise gives students practice framing moral arguments. Students will offer analogies based on the telephone, fax, or regular mail. Many offer examples from their own real-world experiences. Discussing the scenarios familiarizes students with the complexity of the issues, gives them practice in drawing analogies with their own experiences, and helps them to frame moral arguments.

Step 3: ethical decision-making tests provide insight and focus

The informal group discussion sets up the next stage since students already have raised many relevant issues in their comments. In the third step, several intuitive ethical tests are applied to two or three of the scenarios.

    Ethics tests

  • Reversibility: Would I think this a good choice if I were among those affected by it?
  • Publicity: Would I want this action published in the newspaper?
  • Harm: Does this action do less harm than a possible alternative?
  • Code Test: Does this action violate a code provision?
  • These tests help students to formulate supporting arguments that evaluate the scenarios. Often during the informal group discussion, these tests have already been employed either by the students themselves or informally by the instructor. In either case, it is important for students to realize that they are thinking already in ethical terms and that their ethical reflection is complex and sophisticated. It is also helpful to use local idioms for expressing these notions (especially in Puerto Rico). For example, the expression, "putting yourself in someone else's shoes" is a good way of presenting the reversibility test. This helps students realize that their parents, teachers, and religious leaders have passed on much of this "wisdom" to them.
  • It is very helpful to refer to students’ remarks as a means to explain the tests and help them realize that they already incorporate these notions in their decision-making.

Step 4: student groups re-evaluate scenarios with ethics tests

The next step allows students to apply the ethics tests. In groups of three or four, the students select two or three scenarios and re-evaluate them using the tests to sharpen their ethical arguments. The results are impressive: students quickly reach a consensus, back their positions with well-constructed ethical arguments, and emerge from the discussion with more confidence. They are, in short, ethically empowered. A debriefing session follows in which students summarize their group results with the rest of the class. This, in turn, generates more discussion.

Step 5: brief discussion of the importance of ethics

At this stage of the exercise a brief discussion on the importance of ethics helps synthesize the exercise. Issues that can be raised: (1) awareness that ethics affects our behavior, (2) incorporating ethical considerations early into the decision-making process helps to avoid ethical dilemmas later on, (3) we can learn from past problems and adjust future actions to avoid their repetition, (4) everybody practices ethics, not just the so-called expert, and (5) generally speaking, "Good ethics is good business." We conclude the exercise with the slogan, "Be Ethical, be Wise."

Step 6: some students want to learn more…where to go from here?

Past experience indicates that this exercise has had an impact on students. Frequently, they ask for more information about ethics. We have made the following suggestions: take a formal course in engineering or business ethics, watch for ethical issues in the media, study professional and corporate codes of conduct, and do not ignore ethics-related chapters/excerpts available in many textbooks. Finally, we encourage them to discuss related situations (scenarios or experiences) with friends.


  • The goal is to promote ethical-empowerment in our students. What has impressed us most by this exercise is the way in which it changes the student's perspective on ethics in the direction of empowerment. In fact, it promotes ethical-empowerment in several ways:
  • Students learn to recognize ethical problems in the real-world.
  • Students discover that they unconsciously employ ethical concepts and principles in their thinking. Thus, using the ethics tests helps students to recognize and practice the ethics skills they already possess.
  • It gives students practice (and confidence) in formulating ethical arguments.
  • It excites an interest in ethics that often leads to follow-up activities.
  • Instructors who are not experts in ethics can use this exercise and integrate it into their classes. In fact, by carefully selecting scenarios, instructors can help students to see how ethics is a natural and essential part of real-world engineering practice.

Appendix (annotated)

Additional information or annotations for instructors regarding the Student Module Appendix

Questions & Answers

Is there any normative that regulates the use of silver nanoparticles?
Damian Reply
what king of growth are you checking .?
What fields keep nano created devices from performing or assimulating ? Magnetic fields ? Are do they assimilate ?
Stoney Reply
why we need to study biomolecules, molecular biology in nanotechnology?
Adin Reply
yes I'm doing my masters in nanotechnology, we are being studying all these domains as well..
what school?
biomolecules are e building blocks of every organics and inorganic materials.
anyone know any internet site where one can find nanotechnology papers?
Damian Reply
sciencedirect big data base
Introduction about quantum dots in nanotechnology
Praveena Reply
what does nano mean?
Anassong Reply
nano basically means 10^(-9). nanometer is a unit to measure length.
do you think it's worthwhile in the long term to study the effects and possibilities of nanotechnology on viral treatment?
Damian Reply
absolutely yes
how to know photocatalytic properties of tio2 nanoparticles...what to do now
Akash Reply
it is a goid question and i want to know the answer as well
characteristics of micro business
for teaching engĺish at school how nano technology help us
Do somebody tell me a best nano engineering book for beginners?
s. Reply
there is no specific books for beginners but there is book called principle of nanotechnology
what is fullerene does it is used to make bukky balls
Devang Reply
are you nano engineer ?
fullerene is a bucky ball aka Carbon 60 molecule. It was name by the architect Fuller. He design the geodesic dome. it resembles a soccer ball.
what is the actual application of fullerenes nowadays?
That is a great question Damian. best way to answer that question is to Google it. there are hundreds of applications for buck minister fullerenes, from medical to aerospace. you can also find plenty of research papers that will give you great detail on the potential applications of fullerenes.
what is the Synthesis, properties,and applications of carbon nano chemistry
Abhijith Reply
Mostly, they use nano carbon for electronics and for materials to be strengthened.
is Bucky paper clear?
carbon nanotubes has various application in fuel cells membrane, current research on cancer drug,and in electronics MEMS and NEMS etc
so some one know about replacing silicon atom with phosphorous in semiconductors device?
s. Reply
Yeah, it is a pain to say the least. You basically have to heat the substarte up to around 1000 degrees celcius then pass phosphene gas over top of it, which is explosive and toxic by the way, under very low pressure.
Do you know which machine is used to that process?
how to fabricate graphene ink ?
for screen printed electrodes ?
What is lattice structure?
s. Reply
of graphene you mean?
or in general
in general
Graphene has a hexagonal structure
On having this app for quite a bit time, Haven't realised there's a chat room in it.
what is biological synthesis of nanoparticles
Sanket Reply
how did you get the value of 2000N.What calculations are needed to arrive at it
Smarajit Reply
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Source:  OpenStax, Ethics across the curriculum modules for eac toolkit workshops. OpenStax CNX. May 07, 2007 Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col10414/1.2
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