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Yann Serreau, Campus d’enseignement supérieur et de formation professionnelle, CESI, France
In view of the increase in ethical questions, it seems progressively accepted that engineers must be able to consider this dimension in their decision-making. The extent to which the engineering schools dealt with this issue often depends on the extent to which training accreditation systems require this subject to be covered. This is what led us to seek a method for assessing the place given to ethics in the requirements placed on schools by accreditation bodies (Junaid et al., 2021).
Regarding France, it is important to provide some preliminary piece of context. The engineering profession is not regulated in France. However, the title of “ingénieur diplômé” is protected by the law. The Commission des titres d’ingénieur – CTI, is the only institution authorised to carry out evaluation procedures that lead to the accreditation of the institutions to award the engineering degree “titre d’ingénieur diplômé”.
This provision concerns 205 engineering schools, 551 diplomas, 38,000 graduates per year (CTI, 2017). The CTI’s accreditation framework sets out references and guidelines (CTI, 2020a ; 2020b) which each school implements according to its own project. Thus, rather than providing a very precise list of learning outcomes, the reference framework sets out to define the general profile of the engineer and the key points to be considered in the development of training and definition of learning outcomes.
Let us now consider the requirements associated with ethics in “Book 1” “References and major accreditation criteria”. Ethics, as an object of training, is explicitly mentioned seven times (in 59 pages). It is positioned in the field of human and social sciences, and as an element of the context of the engineer’s competence.
If ethics is considered to be associated with current issues such as sustainable development, social responsibility and interculturality, it is referred to on more occasions, but implicitly.
In terms of objectives, according to the CTI, an engineering education must aim at the acquisition of fourteen major abilities, four of which relate to “adaptation to the specific requirements of the company and society”, three of which directly concern ethics or related fields. The verbs used are “identify ethical responsibilities” and “take into account the issues” (applied to the fields of relations, safety, health and diversity at work, the environment and the needs of society). Another capacity aims at “integrating into the organization, leading it and making it evolve”. It mobilizes qualities linked to ethics such as responsibility, commitment, etc. These verbs, take in account or integrate, position a conception of ethics towards the higher levels of Bloom’s taxonomy.
The document also provides guidelines on the pedagogical means to be used: specific training in these fields and cross or systemic approaches, engineer’s charter, case studies, reflections and sharing, etc.
The CTI stipulates that learning outcomes concerning sustainable development, social responsibility, ethics and deontology must be assessed. However, this is not clearly stated in the “self-evaluation” document. On the other hand, it is recommended that the competences, the number of hours and ECTS credits are defined.
In conclusion, it seems to me that a synthesis of the place assigned to ethics in the documents analysed could be to be integrated by engineers to meet the needs of society. Two questions arise at this stage: should the capabilities required for this purpose be defined more precisely? Should the evaluation system check even more rigorously how the acquisition of these capabilities is assessed?
CTI. (2017). CTI & the French engineering degree. https://www.cti-commission.fr/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/CTI_depliant_EN_20171019.pdf
CTI. (2020a). Références et orientations de la Commission des titres d’ingénieur—Livre 1 – (Références et critères majeurs d’accréditation Livre 1-version 2020). Commission des Titres d’Ingénieur.
CTI. (2020b). Références et orientations de la Commission des titres d’ingénieur—Livre 2 – (Guide d’auto-évaluation des écoles en vue de l’accréditation Livre 2-version 2020). Commission des Titres d’Ingénieur.
Junaid, S., Kovacs, H., Martin, D. A., & Serreau, Y. (2021, septembre 13). What is the role of ethics in accreditation guidelines for engineering programmes in Europe?. SEFI 49th annual conference, Berlin.