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spacerIDEESE: Modules

IDEESE is developing, piloting, evaluating, refining, automating and disseminate a set of nine robust education modules designed to advance teaching of the international dimensions of ethics in science and engineering.

These educational materials are organized along two tracks: (Track 1) the impact of globalization on the work practices of scientists and engineers in their various work sites and (Track 2) the impact of international-level regulatory processes on national regulations concerning scientific and engineering knowledge and applications.  The first affects the ethics of professional conduct while the second addresses ethical participation in the regulatory process. 

Each module provides an overview of the topic and is therefore designed for use during ONE class session. If you are interested in exploring these topics in more depth, please refer to the "additional readings" sections in each module and associated case studies.

Although modules are separable, may be used in any order, and are suitable for individual use, IDEESE proposes the sequence of modules below for faculty looking to teach more than one module in their courses.

Additionally, instructors whose main area of expertise is not ethics may be interested in our "Introduction to Principles of Ethics and Morality for Scientists and Engineers" as a background or introductory reading. Additonal resources relevant to all IDEESE modules can be found on our Resources Page.

Module Sequence

Module Descriptions & Downloads:
click here for a brief description of how to use the modules.

adobeModule 1.1: Workplace Ethics in Transnational Contexts: Professional codes of ethics are not consistent across countries.  Scientists and engineers increasingly work in cross-cultural environments that necessitate skills to negotiate changes in ethical standards in a single, transnational workplace. This module discusses transnational aspects and applications of professional codes of ethics. Includes essays on the Roots of Interconnection: Communications, Transportation and Phases of the Industrial Revolution; the Transnational Aspects of the Ethical Debate, Multinational Corporations in Transnational Accountability; and Resolving Ethical Disagreements. As well as resources outlining the  Sources and Extent of Environmental Harm, the UNESCO Description of Engineers’ Work, WFEO’s Model Code of Ethics, and Organizational Diagrams of select Scientific Organizations.

adobeModule 1.2: International Accountability:   International-level mechanisms that hold researchers, research institutes, firms, or others accountable to society are often misunderstood or ignored in current science and engineering curricula. This module will discuss accountability in terms of innovation, self-regulation, scientific unions, corporate pressures, public and private standards, and corporation-specific campaigns and social movements.

adobeModule 1.3.a: Transnational Diffusion of Ideas and Practices:   Understanding the processes by which ideas and debates diffuse across countries is an important precursor to understanding several concepts and issues in international ethics. Includes Chart for Discussion of National Differences in Technology Use; Appropriate Technology Reading and Exercise; and Transnational Diffusion of Ideas and Technologies.

adobeModule 1.3.b: Transnational Conduct:  Effective participation in cross-border scientific cooperation requires sensitivity to the implications of differences in national ethics and standards. It will investigate the problems associated with political censorship and corporate efforts to control access to basic science information.

adobeModule 2.1: Variation in International Regulatory Processes:  The essence of international ethics is that variation exists among regulatory processes. This module will examine variation in multilateral intergovernmental organizations such as United Nations Conferences, United Nations specialized agencies, regional conferences or commissions, and other international bodies including private industry standards-setting bodies.

adobeModule 2.2: Responsible Participation:   Scientists and engineers participate in international regulatory processes in a variety of ways. This module seeks to better define participation, particularly responsible participation, by delineating several categories of participation: epistemic communities, professional associations, scientists as citizen-advocates, scientists as employees of private organizations, and scientists as government officials. It will also examine the various channels of influence open to each type of participation.

adobeModule 2.3.a: Ethical Conflicts Between Nations:   Developing effective international level regulatory responses is particularly difficult when national ethical preferences collide. This module seeks to develop sensitivity to these difficulties. 

adobeModule 2.3.b: Stakeholder Inclusion:  The social context of science and engineering includes many actors. This module will define and identify stakeholders in various contexts and explain a model of social mobilization. 

adobeModule 2.4: Social Equity:   Transnational scientific and engineering activity has effects on social equity.  This module will examine international-level mechanisms for raising social equity concerns including global multilateral organizations, regional multilateral organizations, transnational policy advocacy, transnational social mobilizations, and elite interchange.

How to use the Modules

IDEESE Modules are teaching guides that include outlines for class discussions, teaching notes, and readings on various dimensions of international ethics. The modules provide structure for the course session and are meant to be used with IDEESE case studies so students can explore the complexities of real-life ethical dilemmas.

For example, an instructor interested in using the Workplace Ethics in Transnational Contexts Module would teach workplace ethics using the Bhopal Plant Disaster as an example of a situation where workplace ethics were questioned.

The modules are designed for a single, two hour class session. If your course is shorter than 2 hours, you will have to modify the class outline and select fewer reading assignments.

The modules are also designed for graduate or advanced undergraduate students.

IDEESE suggests the following module-case combinations:


1.1 Workplace Ethics in Transnational Context
1.2  International Accountability
1.3a  Transnational Diffusion of Ideas and Practices
1.3b  Transnational Conduct
2.1  Variation in International Regulatory Processes
2.2  Responsible Participation
  • Montreal Protocol
  • Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
2.3a  Ethical Conflict between Nations
2.3b Stakeholder Inclusion
2.4 Social Equity





Funding for the International Dimensions of Ethics Education in Science and Engineering Project comes from the National Science Foundation through grant number 0734887. Any opinions, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed here are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.

For additional STS Research Clusters, visit our Research Page.


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