Promoting engineering students’ social responsibility and willingness to act on socioscientific issues

Yohan Hwang, Yeonjoo Ko, Sungok Serena Shim, Seung Yong Ok, Hyunju Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Background: Despite increasing awareness of the importance of promoting the social responsibility of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) professionals, few intervention programs have been developed to enhance the social responsibility of college students or adults in the STEM fields. In this paper, we introduced a new instructional program, called ENACT (engage, navigate, anticipate, conduct, and take action) and examined whether the program increased the social responsibility among safety engineering students (N = 46) recruited from a university located in a southern metropolitan area of South Korea. Results: In the ENACT program, the college students selected and explored socioscientific issues (SSIs) of their own interest then autonomously engaged in scientific and engineering group projects spanning a semester where they developed solutions to the SSIs and shared them with their communities. At the conclusion of the intervention in this study, they displayed an increased social responsibility regarding the consideration of societal needs and demands, civic engagement and services, and participation in policy decision-making. Social responsibility scores measured after the intervention (post-test) correlated with students' willingness to voluntarily participate in projects involving SSIs. In addition, the intervention effects were more pronounced for the students who initially had medium and low social responsibility scores. Conclusions: We have shown that social responsibility can be nurtured by systemic instructional approaches, and increased social responsibility can lead to greater commitment to resolving SSIs. Mastering engineering content knowledge and skills is the key element of engineering curricula. However, we are compelled to incorporate social responsibility into the STEM curriculum. We believe that the ENACT model contributes toward this end.

Original languageEnglish
Article number11
JournalInternational Journal of STEM Education
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2023

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  • Engineering students
  • Instructional model
  • Social responsibility
  • Socioscientific issues


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