Certificate in Engineering, Ethics & Society

Whether one looks to regenerative medicine, which seeks to defy death by enabling damaged tissues to be re-grown, or to NASA missions that aim not only to explore our own solar system but even to probe beyond our galaxy, or to the mysteries and promise of research at the nano-level, the benefits and excitement of modern technology are unmistakable. Unfortunately, however, examples of its potential for harm are also haunting and are no longer limited to the risk of nuclear annihilation.

Two thousand years before the birth of modern science, Socrates argued that the person who was best equipped to cure a disease was also most capable of spreading one, and so began a conversation still under way: How can the increasingly vast powers of science be guided toward the solution of human problems and kept from aggravating them?

Certificate Description

The Certificate in Engineering, Ethics and Society (EES) leads students to courses that will engage them with contemporary issues regarding the promotion, use and possible risks of engineering and applied science. For example, what are the likely benefits and risks of genetic engineering? How can engineering help offset worldwide environmental degradation? What role should engineers play in formulating policies that will govern the relationship between science and contemporary American society?

The EES certificate includes a cornerstone course that explores these philosophical questions (and others related to them). The certificate also steers students toward other courses that address these difficult questions and will help them find a path toward workable answers. The list of possible courses includes:

  • courses that view engineering in social, economic and legal contexts;
  • courses that study science and technology in the past, thereby illuminating their influence in the present; and
  • courses that explore the environmental consequences of STEM innovation.

The certificate is directed by Paul Diduch, instructor in the Herbst Program for Engineering, Ethics & Society.

To begin the certificate, students must:
  • Be in good standing in the College of Engineering and Applied Science
  • Complete a certificate enrollment with Paul Diduch of the Herbst Program.

To complete the certificate, students must complete 12 credits, including four courses (at least one upper division), with a minimum grade of C+.:
Great Books Seminar 3
Choose one:  
Engineering, Ethics and Society  
Seminar in Engineering, Ethics & Society  
Critical Encounters  
STEM & H&SS Intersection 3
Choose one:  
Engineering in History: The Social Impact of Technology  
The Meaning of Information Technology  
History of Modern Science from Newton to Einstein  
History of Modern Technology from 1750 to the Atomic Bomb  
Modern Science and Technological Society  
Gaining a Global State of Mind for Effective Engineering Practice  
Gaining a Global State of Mind for Effective Engineering Practice  
Ethics of Genetic Engineering: A Multidisciplinary Approach  
The Empire of Modern Science  
Additional Herbst or EHON (Engineering Honors) course 1 3
Course in Humanities or Social Science from the College of Arts & Sciences linked to EES (Engineering, Ethics & Society) themes 2 3
Total Credit Hours 12

This could be an additional course from the list above, or it could include Herbst or EHON Special Topics courses, Herbst Global Seminars or Global Intensives, or other Herbst courses. 


Students must confer with the EES Certificate Director to determine the suitability of a particular course.  

Any student who has completed the specified courses approved for this certificate but has not received a minimum grade of C+ in each course will still receive credit for these courses as H&SS electives.