Formación en competencias de sostenibilidad, responsabilidad social y ética profesional: estudio de casos en ingeniería industrial e ingeniería informática

Miñano Rubio, Rafael (2019). Formación en competencias de sostenibilidad, responsabilidad social y ética profesional: estudio de casos en ingeniería industrial e ingeniería informática. Thesis (Doctoral), E.T.S.I. Industriales (UPM). https://doi.org/10.20868/UPM.thesis.55789.

Description

Title: Formación en competencias de sostenibilidad, responsabilidad social y ética profesional: estudio de casos en ingeniería industrial e ingeniería informática
Author/s:
  • Miñano Rubio, Rafael
Contributor/s:
  • Moreno Romero, Ana
  • Lumbreras Martín, Julio
Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Date: 2019
Subjects:
Faculty: E.T.S.I. Industriales (UPM)
Department: Ingeniería de Organización, Administración de Empresas y Estadística
Creative Commons Licenses: Recognition - No derivative works - Non commercial

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Abstract

Esta tesis aporta referencias y propuestas sobre cómo integrar las competencias de responsabilidad social, sostenibilidad y ética profesional (competencias RSSE) en los planes de estudios de forma holística, completa, sistemática y efectiva, dentro del actual contexto académico español de las titulaciones de ingeniería. Su objetivo es contribuir a que la universidad, desde su misión docente, sea un agente proactivo y eficaz para afrontar los actuales desafíos globales. La investigación se basa en un diseño de estudio de caso múltiple, analizando la práctica docente desde distintas perspectivas, y siguiendo metodologías cuantitativas y cualitativas. Se ha realizado un estudio exploratorio sobre los planes de estudio de 55 titulaciones de ingenierías informáticas e industriales de 25 universidades españolas; un estudio longitudinal de dos intervenciones docentes en contextos académicos diferentes; y un contraste de resultados con entrevistas y grupos focales con profesorado y alumnado universitario. Los resultados y propuestas se presentan desde tres perspectivas: práctica docente, planes de estudio y apoyo institucional. Desde la perspectiva de la práctica docente, esta tesis aporta un modelo conceptual y un modelo metodológico que se han mostrado eficaces para el desarrollo de competencias RSEE. El modelo conceptual complementa las tres dimensiones de la sostenibilidad (económica, social y ambiental) aportando fundamentos éticos, incluyendo el análisis de grupos de interés, fomentando una visión estrategia orientada a la creación de valor compartido, y considerando todo el ciclo de vida del proyecto. El modelo metodológico se basa en tres aspectos básicos − identificar, analizar, aplicar – que sintetizan las propuestas de diversas fuentes para integrar criterios éticos y de sostenibilidad en proyectos de ingeniería. Para potenciar la reflexión y la visión holística, se ha visto fundamental la flexibilidad para adaptarse al contexto académico e intereses del alumnado y conectar con la actividad real. Para ello es clave la motivación, formación y coordinación del profesorado. Desde la perspectiva de los planes de estudio, el estudio exploratorio muestra que en las ingenierías informáticas, el trabajo de las competencias RSSE suele concentrarse en asignaturas de aspectos sociales, éticos y legales, y hay carencias de aspectos ambientales. En las ingenierías industriales, se ha observado que las competencias RSSE se trabajan en una mayor variedad de asignaturas, sobre todo de tecnologías ambientales y proyectos, y hay carencias en el trabajo de los aspectos éticos. A partir de los resultados de la investigación, se considera que es posible integrar de forma holística y sistemática las competencias RSSE en los actuales currículos de las ingenierías. Un modelo apropiado debería de apoyarse en: i) la inclusión de los principios básicos de sostenibilidad, ética profesional y responsabilidad social en materias obligatorias; ii) su integración en asignaturas aplicadas de proyectos y los trabajos de fin de titulación, y iii) el trabajo transversal en otras asignaturas del plan de estudios. Para llevarlo a cabo es fundamental un compromiso institucional para alinear la integración de las competencias RSSE en los planes de estudios con las iniciativas estratégicas ya existentes – planes de calidad o de sostenibilidad, acreditaciones internacionales, líneas de investigación −. Esta apuesta estratégica implica el seguimiento y evaluación de los objetivos planteados, potenciando su continuidad y mejora. También es clave flexibilizar la organización docente superando la rigidez de las estructuras disciplinares, y apoyar la existencia de equipos de trabajo y espacios de encuentro interdisciplinares con actores no académicos. Estas propuestas se plantean como una oportunidad de crear valor compartido y aportar un factor de calidad a la formación del alumnado, al trabajo del profesorado y a la propia institución universitaria. ----------------------------- Abstract-------------------------------- The past few decades have shown that the answers to global social and environmental challenges are neither simple, clear nor easy to implement in today’s complex globalised society. The problems are multi-causal and affect many different actors: governments, companies, trade unions, civil society, and educational institutions, each with its own way of influencing the process. In particular, the responsibility of higher education institutions in addressing these challenges is widely recognized, as is the requirement that they contribute through their triple mission of training, research and transferring knowledge to society. Both international reports and diagnostic studies of Spanish universities on the incorporation of sustainability in higher education show that the greatest barriers and resistance to change are to be found in the field of teaching, despite the fact that some progress has been observed (Chapter 1). Much remains to be done to reorient university curricula towards sustainable development; study programs do not usually cover all its dimensions and there are few instances of large-scale curricular changes. Moreover, most cases are isolated, have little impact on the overall training program, and fail to reach all students. Similar outcomes are observed when an analysis is done from the perspective of professional ethics and social responsibility - skills which are closely related to the competencies required to face the challenges of sustainability. Given this situation, it is important to conduct research so as to manage an effective and systematic integration of those skills and competencies into university degrees. Besides, the very complexity of these topics means that teaching models must promote a holistic and systemic vision, as well as open up spaces for reflection and create tools to address open problems that incorporate "non-technical" criteria and ways of thinking. This research addresses some of these challenges and aims to contribute to an improvement in the training of engineering students in the competencies for social responsibility, sustainability, and professional ethics. These different perspectives have been integrated into the same competencies-development framework which I have called “RSSE competencies” (an acronym of the Spanish term Responsabilidad Social, Sostenibilidad y Ética). It is hoped that the results of this research can be adapted to the specific characteristics of each academic context. In the field of teaching, the three approaches share the common goal of contributing to the comprehensive training of engineering students, who are to become aware of and responsible for the impact of their professional activity in a global context; a context in which technology plays a prominent role. The main contribution of the research is to provide points of reference and proposals on how to integrate competencies for social responsibility, sustainability, and professional ethics into engineering curricula in the current academic context of Spanish university degrees, in a way that is holistic, comprehensive, systematic and effective. These proposals have been developed from practice and for practice. The results on which they are based have been reached by analysing the current curricula of engineering degrees at various Spanish universities, by analysing teaching practices in different academic contexts, and through dialogue with university professors and students. The research has focused on case studies on industrial and computer engineering degrees. However, some of its results can be extrapolated to other engineering degrees or academic university contexts. The final goal is to contribute to the transformation of universities so that they may become proactive and effective agents in facing global challenges. In particular, three specific objectives have been defined: o to describe how the current programs of both industrial and computer engineering degrees are integrating RSSE competencies into their teaching, specifically analysing whether this is done holistically and systematically throughout the curriculum, and identifying good practices and reference models; o to analyse the effectiveness of comprehensive teaching methodologies in developing RSSE competencies in specific academic contexts; o to synthesize the results and define proposals from a triple perspective: curriculum, teaching practices, and institutional and organizational actions. The methodology is based on a practical paradigm, combining both quantitative and qualitative methods. Hence, a multiple-case-study design has been chosen, with three different pieces of research developed in parallel, analysing teaching practices from different perspectives and following different research methodologies (Chapter 5). Regarding the curriculum, exploratory research has been carried out to discover how RSSE competencies are being integrated into the programs of both industrial and computer engineering degrees in 25 Spanish universities. The curriculum, the syllabus, and teaching practices of the given courses have been analysed using a methodology based on benchmarking techniques. Inspiring examples have also been identified and used as a reference on which to base proposals and identify success factors (Chapter 6). Regarding teaching, two practices were analysed in different contexts and using different methodologies: a compulsory course for freshmen of computer engineering degrees aimed at developing professional ethics skills (Chapter 7); and a compulsory course for students of a Master’s for developing competencies for sustainability of industrial engineering projects (Chapter 8). In both cases, these teaching practices were aligned with the objectives, learning outcomes and assessment of the courses in which they were taught. A common methodological framework was applied, using design-based research, but different methods were used to adapt the research to the actual conditions of each context. In the first case, a quasi-experimental design was used to analyse the students’ progress based on the results obtained in two consecutive semesters. In the second case, a longitudinal study was developed using an action-research methodology over three academic years. The results, analysis, and conclusions of the studies led to a process of reflection and synthesis, which was supported by semi-structured interviews with experts and focus groups. This last phase also aimed to identify key aspects of institutional and organizational actions that can contribute more effectively to integrating RSSE competencies into university education (Chapter 9). The results and proposals obtained from the research are presented in accordance with the different perspectives considered: curriculum, teaching and institutional. From the curriculum perspective, the research reveals the existence of a great diversity of models, depending on the degree, the courses integrating RSSE competencies and the particular topics that are considered. However, some general characteristics have been observed. In the computer engineering degrees, the RSSE competencies are usually included in specific courses about social, ethical and legal issues, and a significant lack of environmental issues has been observed. In the industrial engineering degrees, work on RSSE competencies is present in a greater variety of courses, especially those related to environmental technologies and projects, but ethical issues do not usually appear explicitly. In both cases, these characteristics reflect certain government recommendations made during the process of defining the new degrees for the European Higher Education Area. With regards to how RSSE competencies have been embedded into the curriculum, examples have been selected to illustrate the different aspects of RSSE competencies included in various different courses. The results of the research suggest that an appropriate and feasible model for holistically and systematically developing RSSE competencies within the engineering programs should be based on three pillars: o including the principles of sustainability, professional ethics and social responsibility in mandatory courses; o explicitly including such principles in project courses and, specifically, in capstone projects; o transversally embedding RSSE topics into appropriate courses of the study programs. This model is compatible with the current engineering curricula and the skills defined in them. It has been observed that existing courses in the domain of both the humanities and the engineering projects, as well as the capstone project are very appropriate areas for developing a holistic and reflective approach. Furthermore, the presence of economics and business courses in every engineering program is considered an opportunity for working on RSSE competencies. Some interesting examples have been found, which address RSSE topics either from a social responsibility perspective or through a critical analysis of business models and economic development. The main challenge identified is that of ensuring that RSSE competencies are not integrated into the curriculum on isolated occasions due to the individual initiatives of teaching staff, but rather that they are developed consistently and systematically throughout. The use of competencies maps, which assign and indicate which competencies are included in each course, has been seen as an effective tool to address this challenge. From a teaching practice perspective, the first contribution of this thesis is to provide a conceptual model and a methodological model, which have both proved to be effective in developing RSSE competencies in different contexts. The conceptual model aims to foster a more holistic view and to help students broaden their perspective when undertaking technological projects. This model complements the three basic dimensions of sustainability (economic, social and environmental) by encouraging reflection on the "why" (providing ethical foundations), "for whom" (including stakeholders in the analyses), and "for what" (fostering a strategic vision for the creation of shared value). The model also proposes that these dimensions be considered throughout the whole life cycle of the project. The methodological model is based on three basic steps - identify, analyse, apply - that synthesize proposals from very diverse sources in order to integrate ethical and social issues into technological projects. It also includes some of the characteristics which the results of the studies and their discussion in groups and interviews showed to be useful in promoting reflection and a holistic approach: flexibility in adapting to the academic context and to students’ interests, bringing them in line with the realities of the professional world; simplicity; and aligning activities to assessment methods, prioritizing the students’ involvement and motivation as opposed to merely obtaining a quantitative grade. The quantitative and qualitative analyses of the two teaching practices, based on these models, show progress in the development of RSSE competencies. In the first case, there are clear improvements in identifying ethical issues and the usefulness of deontological codes. In the second, significant progress has been observed in the global view, in awareness of the importance of sustainability when developing engineering projects, and in the attitude to promoting positive impacts. Furthermore, and with regards to teaching, this thesis also refers to very different courses that can serve as an inspiration for working on RSSE competencies in engineering degrees with a holistic and reflective approach. As was expected, the motivation and training of professors have emerged as key factors, both in the studies and in the groups and interviews. They are essential for adapting the learning activities related to RSSE competencies to both the academic context and to students’ interests. Our students especially value the guiding role of professors in the learning process. When the goal is to instil a holistic view, the challenge is to harmonize the different visions and capacities that teachers currently have in relation to sustainability, ethics or social responsibility, and to work in groups with a diversity of profiles in a continuous and coordinated way. Finally, from an institutional perspective, the main challenge is to transform the university culture and to foster a personal transformation in those involved in the learning process. To bring about this transformation, a good starting point is to build on existing initiatives: strategic quality plans, sustainability plans, university social responsibility strategies, international accreditations, research projects oriented towards social and environmental challenges. These initiatives should include the incorporation of RSSE competencies into the curricula, which gives these competencies greater visibility. Appropriate indicators should also be defined to follow up on the planned actions, in order to assess and report on the outcomes, as this will reinforce their continuity and improvement. A practice that has proven effective is the appointment of either committees or persons responsible for cross-cutting competencies, whose mission is to ensure that these competencies are included throughout the curriculum in a systematic and coherent way. Use of the aforementioned competencies maps has also proven successful. Regarding institutional support to professors, we wish to highlight the importance of teacher training, and the existence of working groups that serve as a reference for professors, students and the academic managers themselves. Again, our proposal is to make use of existing training initiatives – on skills-based learning, interdisciplinary work, responsible research, innovation training, initial teacher training, etc. – and to embed RSSE competencies into them. Institutional support is also essential to facilitate the training, continuity, visibility, and recognition of working groups. An institutional commitment to promoting greater flexibility in how teaching is organised is considered a key factor in the transformation of Spanish university culture. This flexibility should facilitate interdisciplinarity and transdisciplinarity, interdepartmental and interinstitutional cooperation, thereby overcoming the rigidity of the disciplinary structures. The existence of interdisciplinary meeting spaces, open to non-academic agents, has been identified as an effective tool. Such places foster the exchange of experiences and promote transformative actions. The challenges posed by sustainable development and the complexity thereof can be a great opportunity for promoting these spaces. After taking into account the various perspectives, two key words that could summarise the conclusions of this thesis are complexity and responsibility. Complexity has to be tackled: the complexity of the matter itself, the complexity of the skills required to address its challenges, and the complexity of the academic context where the changes have to be implemented. This means that multiple factors and multiple actors have to be taken into account, that the process will take time, that changes must be made to the institutional culture, and that new spaces, habits, and behaviours must be generated. The general proposal is not to introduce more complexity into the system, but to align actions with existing strategies, and to identify and take advantage of existing leverages and opportunities so as to address identified challenges. The aim is not to increase the workload but to reorient it towards the pursued goals. Among the various studies developed in this thesis, instilling a sense of responsibility has been identified as the most specific of the RSSE competencies. In engineering education, it is essential to present sustainability, social responsibility, and ethics as something intrinsic to the profession, opening up perspectives beyond purely technical issues, and fostering reflection on and awareness of the impact of engineering on society. The proposals reached from these different perspectives arise, therefore, from a dual approach to responsibility: professional responsibility as members of the university community, and social responsibility of the university as an institution at the service of society. The university plays a critical role in addressing current global challenges, including the training of responsible citizens and professionals. The focus is not so much on obligations, but on opportunities for creating shared value and for delivering quality to the training of students, as well as to the professional activity of the faculty and to the university institution itself.

More information

Item ID: 55789
DC Identifier: http://oa.upm.es/55789/
OAI Identifier: oai:oa.upm.es:55789
DOI: 10.20868/UPM.thesis.55789
Deposited by: Archivo Digital UPM 2
Deposited on: 09 Sep 2019 06:52
Last Modified: 12 Sep 2019 06:50
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