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A HE curriculum for teaching and learning ethical issues arising from pervasive communications

Meyer, Holly and Higbee, Katy and Stankovic, L. and Stankovic, Vladimir M. (2008) A HE curriculum for teaching and learning ethical issues arising from pervasive communications. In: EE2008 – the International Conference on Innovation, Good Practice and Research in Engineering Education conference proceedings. Engineering Education. ISBN 978 1 904804 65 9

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Abstract

A current field of innovation and change in electronic and computer engineering is the development of pervasive communications, enabled by technologies that allow seamless communication and dynamic configuration of wireless networks and services to adapt to users' preferences and network conditions. Pervasive communications are proliferating steadily throughout society via ubiquitous mobile devices with internet access, personal communications, and tracking abilities. It is thus important to instill an awareness of ethical issues arising from pervasive communications to engineering students, who will impact public welfare through their professional practice. Professional organizations such as the Royal Academy of Engineering in the UK, the European Union research funding, and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers USA strongly support engineering ethics in their current and future policy activities. Indeed, ethics in the engineering curriculum is becoming one of the criteria universities worldwide must meet to maintain their accreditation. We thus propose the inclusion of a course within the engineering curriculum for those students specialising in communications, at advanced undergraduate or masters level to foster thoughts about their obligations as communications engineers. This paper will review the emerging ethical issues arising from pervasive communications, including issues of privacy, integrity, trust, and intellectual property rights. Current practices, nationally and internationally, will be discussed, and the rationale for introducing the ethics course to the curriculum outlined. Recommendations for the course content will follow, including the aims and objectives, the delivery methods, and assessment tools.