Swarthmore, unlike the majority of the small liberal arts colleges in the US, offeres bachelor's degrees in engineering. This is a good thing because it is increasingly difficult to make any decision without an understanding of technological issues, so an entire college without a technology program seems quite lame. Last week during the Swarthmore reunion the subject of engineering came up more than once. However some people seem to think that the role of engineering in a college is to enlighten future engineers about philosophical issues.
We don't often run into serious trouble caused by bad decisions made because the 1 in a hundred of us who are engineers didn't take an ethics course in college. We face catastrophes because the 99 out of a hundred who are not engineers are unable or unwilling to consider the natural consequences of their actions. For example, if Americans confronted the fact that current technology for generating energy has very high indirect costs, and took small measures such as driving small cars, turning off the engine when not driving, and putting up with higher indoor temperatures in summer than in winter, the country would not be involved in 2 wars against oil-financed forces, and we would not have destroyed life in the Gulf of Mexico.