sample syllabus

Our syllabus changes from year to year to include new readings, assignments, and guest speakers. Its essence, however, stays the same. Key components include:

  1. Interdisciplinary readings on the course’s four thematic units:
    • Learning to Listen
    • Responsible Conduct of Research
    • Responsible Conduct of Practice
    • Witnessing Wrongdoing and the Obligation to Prevent Harm
  2. Class lectures
  3. Class discussion
  4. Guest visits from diverse stakeholders
  5. Learning to Listen exercise
  6. Story of Self
  7. Student blogging
  8. Book project
  9. Ethics card

Below is the version of our 2012 syllabus:


This syllabus features our semester-long partnership with the grassroots environmental health and justice organization Clean Air Coalition of Western New York (CACWNY). At the time, CACWNY was a key stakeholder in an unfolding environmental health controversy involving benzene emissions from Tonawanda Coke Corporation, a local foundry coke manufacturer. Students collectively conducted extensive background research on the case and were paired up individually with local stakeholders for ethnographic interviews.

This was an especially powerful experience because it amplified students’ research and personal connection to the case. Two students, William Rhoads and Sid Roy, subsequently joined Yanna Lambrinidou on a field trip to CACWNY.

tonawanda 2013

Aug 2013, Buffalo, NY: Meeting at the CACWNY to learn more about the organization’s projects and goals as well as the personal work and visions of staff and members in relation to local contamination problems, environmental justice, and public health.

The trip reinforced take-away messages from the class, which William and Sid highlighted in a talk to a new group of students in “Engineering Ethics and the Public” the following semester:


We consider our partnership with CACWNY a model that we are planning to develop further for future collaborations with affected communities. The same model will be adopted in 2016 with a community in Seattle, WA for a new engineering ethics undergraduate class that will be taught by Nathan Canney, PhD, PE at Seattle University.

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