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Societal and Ethical Dimensions of Systems Design

Key Faculty: Michael Gorman, Garrick Louis

Area Description: Technological systems have consequences for both the environment and human welfare. Increasingly, large and small companies are developing ethical guidelines to govern both employee conduct and also to guide product design. This option prepares students to investigate the roles of ethics and other social factors in invention and design, and to develop technological systems that are environmentally sustainable and socially just.
     This graduate option involves collaboration between Systems Engineering, the Division of Technology, Culture & Communications and the Ruffin Center for Business Ethics in the Colgate Darden School of Business. Students examine the systems created by companies, entrepreneurs and inventors in developed and developing nations. They examine the process by which these new technological systems are created in order to articulate the environmental, ethical and social constructions embodied in the design of those systems. Depending on their research focus, students take a variety of courses and implement tools in systems engineering, ethics, cognitive science, environmental design and technological studies. The result should be a detailed analysis of the manifold factors in making decisions (such as environmentally responsible decisions) in the design of such a system. Alternatively, the student may propose a design for the system. The results are manifested in a thesis and case studies published in the Darden Case Bibliography (for examples, see

Potential Courses:
ANTH 703 Ethnography
ARCH 589 Environmental Choices
PLAN 551 Sustainable Communities
PLAN 524 Negotiating Public Policy Issues
PLAN 533 Environmental Policy and Planning
PLAN 555 Environmental Impact Assessment
PLAN 554 Environmental Values and Ethics
PLAN 558 Planning for Biodiversity
GBUS 717 Ethics
GBUS 820 Business Ethics Through Literature
GBUS 713 Organizational Behavior
GBUS 802 Corporate Communications
GBUS 884 Innovation in Technology and Management
GBUS 810 Management Control Systems
GBUS 875 Managerial Psychology
PSYC 560 Dynamic Systems in Social Behavior
PHIL 864 Law and Morality
SOC 559 Sociology of Science
SOC 562 Social Demography
SOC 851 Sociology of Work
SOC 851 Sociology of Organizations
STAT 512 Applied Linear Models
STAT 513 Applied Multivariate Statistics
STAT 995 Statistical Consulting
LAW3 651 Environmental Law
LAW4 602 Local Governmental Law
LAW4 639 Administrative Environmental Law

Example Concentration Areas

A student interested in any area has the ability to customize his course selection to fit his concentration. Possible concentrations within Societal and Ethical Dimensions of Systems Design include:

Job Opportunities

A student studying Ethics.