This section features the various reading material for the course. Readings range from articles to case studies to sample papers.

Main Texts

MacKenzie, Nancy R_. Science and Technology Today: Readings for Writers_. New York, NY: Bedford/St. Martin’s Press, 1994. ISBN: 9780312096922.

Harris, Jr., Charles E., Michael S. Pritchard, and Michael J. Rabins. Engineering Ethics: Concepts and Cases. 3rd ed. Belmont, CA: Thomson/Wadsworth, 2004. ISBN: 9780534605797. (See the book’s companion site for brief summaries of some of the cases.)

Readings by Session

Please note: Not all sessions have assigned readings or handouts. Please refer to the calendar for details for all sessions.



Technical Writing Style

In-class Writing Sample

(no readings) Writing Sample Prompt (PDF)

What is Technology? What is Ethics?

Case Discussion: The Hyatt Regency Walkways Collapse

Hyatt Regency Case description and pictures.  

Discussion of “Can Technology Replace Social Engineering?”

Technical Writing Style (cont.)

Overview of Formal Paper 1: Explanation of a Term

Weinberg, Alvin. “Can Technology Replace Social Engineering?” In Technology and the Future. 10th ed. Edited by Albert H. Teich. New York, NY: Wadsworth Publishing, 2005. ISBN: 9780534602772. (Originally written in 1966.)  

Discussion of Carson’s “The Obligation to Endure”

Case Discussion: XYZ Hose Company And The Case Of The Bursting Hose

Carson, Rachel. “The Obligation to Endure,” chapter 2 in Silent Spring. 104th anniversary ed. New York, NY: Mariner Books, 2002. ISBN: 9780618249060. (Originally published in 1962. Any edition will do.)

“The XYZ Hose Company and the Case of the Bursting Hose.” In Engineering Ethics.

Environmental Ethics (PDF)

Discussion Questions for XYZ Case Study (PDF)


Case Discussion: Chernobyl

Discussion of “The Science of Scientific Writing”

Correspondence: Letters and Cover Letters (cont.)

“Aftermath of Chernobyl.” In Engineering Ethics.

Gopen, George D., and Judith A. Swan. “The Science of Scientific Writing.” American Scientist 78 (November-December 1990): 550-558.


Correspondence: Letters and Cover Letters (cont.)

Workshop: Cover Letter and Resume

Discussion of Eishtain and Karpati Readings

Preview of Next Major Assignment (Formal Paper 2: Critical Review)

Elshtain, Jean Bethke. “Why Worry About the Animals?” In Science and Technology Today.

Karpati, Ron. “A Scientist: ‘I Am the Enemy.’” In Science and Technology Today. (Originally published in Newsweek, 18 December, 1989.)

MIT Careers Office: Career Development Workbook (PDF - 2.2 MB)

Discussion Questions for Elshtain and Karpati (PDF)

Individual Conferences, Goals, Scheduling

Case Discussion: DNA Structure

Discussion of Formal Paper 2: Critical Review

“DNA Structure.” In Engineering Ethics.  

Workshop: Critical Review

Overview of 6 Articles

Overview of APA Citation Format

Nuclear Energy

Holton, W. Conrad. “Power Surge: Renewed Interest in Nuclear Energy.” Environmental Health Perspectives 113, no. 11 (November 2005): A742-A749.

Charman, Karen. “Brave Nuclear World?” World Watch 19, no. 4 (July/August 2006): 12-20.

Stem Cell Research

Mieth, Dietmar. “Going to the roots of the stem cell debate.” EMBO Reports 1, no. 1 (July 15, 2000): 4-6.

Cohen, Eric. “Science, Democracy, and Stem Cells.” Philosophy Today 48, no. 5 (2004): 23-29.

GM Food

Cayford, Jerry. “Breeding Sanity into the GM Food Debate.” Issues in Science and Technology 20, no. 2 (Winter 2004): 49-56.

Goklany, Indur M. “The Future of Food.” Forum for Applied Research and Public Policy 16, no. 2 (Summer 2001): 59-65.

Discussion Questions (PDF)

Structuring the Critique

Writing a Summary

Citing Sources

(no readings) Citing Sources (PDF)

Review Student Written Abstracts

Case Discussion: Tacoma Bridge Collapse

General Introduction to the Literature Review

Warwick, Kevin. “Cyborg morals, cyborg values, cyborg ethics.” Ethics and Information Technology 5, no. 3 (2003): 131-137.

“Tacoma Bridge Collapse.” In Engineering Ethics.


Case Discussion: Bhopal Disaster

Overview of Assignment Requirements for Formal Paper 3: Literature Review

Overview of Sample Literature Reviews

“Bhopal Disaster.” In Engineering Ethics.

Sample Literature Reviews

Brown, Robert D., and Copper, Susan M. “The Nutritional, Ecological, and Ethical Arguments Against Baiting and Feeding White-Tailed Deer.” Wildlife Society Bulletin 34, no. 2 (June 2006): 519-524.

Colvin, Jan, and Jane Lanigan. “Ethical Issues and Best Practice for Internet Research.” Journal of Family and Consumer Science 97, no. 3 (September 2005): 34-39.

Peslak, Alan R. “An Ethical Exploration of Privacy and Radio Frequency Identification.” Journal of Business Ethics 59 (2005): 327-345.

Overview of Sample Literature Reviews (PDF)
15 Library Visit MIT Libraries: Barton Basics  

Overview of (More) Sample Literature Reviews

Structuring the Paper (Writing the Introduction, Body, and Conclusion)

Sample Literature Reviews

Language and Gender: A Brief Literature Review

Apes and Langauge: Literature Review (PDF) from the official Web site for Diane Hacker, author of A Pocket Style Manual (please see study materials for more information)

Adolescent Depression (PDF) from Purdue University Online Writing Lab (OWL)

Discussion Questions for Sample Literature Reviews (PDF)

Workshop: Literature Review

Case Discussion: The Ford Pinto Case

“The Ford Pinto Case.” In Engineering Ethics.  

Case Discussion: Whistleblowing

Requirements for the Proposal Assignment

“Whistleblowing.” In Engineering Ethics.  

Workshop: Proposal

Strategies for Effective Visual Aids

Case Discussion: Columbia Shuttle Disaster

“Columbia Shuttle Disaster.” In Engineering Ethics.  

Course Info

Learning Resource Types

assignment_turned_in Written Assignments with Examples