Ethics and the UN Sustainable Development Goals: The Case for Comprehensive EngineeringReport as inadecuate

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Science and Engineering Ethics

pp 1–9

Commentary on -Using Student Engagement to Relocate Ethics to the Core of the Engineering Curriculum-First Online: 27 December 2016Received: 04 July 2016Accepted: 11 October 2016DOI: 10.1007-s11948-016-9862-2

Cite this article as: van den Hoven, J. Sci Eng Ethics 2016. doi:10.1007-s11948-016-9862-2


In the twenty-first century, the urgent problems the world is facing the UN Sustainable Development Goals are increasingly related to vast and intricate ‘systems of systems’, which comprise both socio-technical and eco-systems. In order for engineers to adequately and responsibly respond to these problems, they cannot focus on only one technical or any other aspect in isolation, but must adopt a wider and multidisciplinary perspective of these systems, including an ethical and social perspective. Engineering curricula should therefore focus on what we call ‘comprehensive engineering’. Comprehensive engineering implies ethical coherence, consilience of scientific disciplines, and cooperation between parties.

KeywordsComprehensive engineering Responsible research and innovation Engineering ethics Sustainable development Sustainable development goals Global systems science A man to be greatly good, must imagine intensely and comprehensively…—Percy Bysshe Shelley, A Defence of Poetry and Other Essays.

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Author: Jeroen van den Hoven


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