SOCIETAL RESPONSIBILITY IN ENGINEERING EDUCATION; A CASE STUDY ON R&DI-COOPERATION WITHIN CIVIL ENGINEERING
Editor: Erik Bohemia, Ahmed Kovacevic, Lyndon Buck, Peter Childs, Stephen Green, Ashley Hall, Aran Dasan
Author: Thorstensen, Rein Terje; Svennevig, Paul Ragnar; Larsen, Ingrid Lande
Institution: University of Agder, Norway
Section: Ethics and Social Issues in Design and Engineering Education
This paper describes how co-operation on Research, Development, and Innovation (RD&I) between the university and the value chain within road construction has resulted in increased awareness on the responsibility public institutions have to support industry, and at the same time attend fairness and equal treatment between industrial competitors. Universities are major contributors to societal development, through the formation of aspiring young professionals. In addition to having responsibility for equipping young professionals with knowledge and skills necessary for becoming attractive participants in working life, universities have responsibility for forming a society in responsible and ethical directions. Co-operating on RD&I with private companies might be challenging for governmental universities, as new knowledge is developed to increase the competitive advantage of the funding company only, and thus should not be distributed. The mandate of governmental universities is to develop and distribute knowledge openly. It is important to attend that any secluded industrial activities are fully funded by industry, not subsidised by the general governmental funding for the university. The case discussed in this paper concerns an RD&I cooperation between two governmental bodies; a university and a newly established road construction client organisation. Both organisations share the societal mission of supporting the industrial value chain. As a consequence of new awareness, it is realised to be important to safeguard that not only new technical knowledge is internalised in engineering education programmes and practice, however also the societal responsibility.