Disasters and Decision Making: A Matter of Ethics

Monday, June 4
4:00 PM - 5:30 PM
Location: Lake Superior B

Using a case study approach, the presenters will engage the audience in discussions of decision making in the wake of natural disasters, especially as it pertains to ethical challenges associated with rebuilding. In doing so, presenters will help the audience make connections to the UN Sustainable Development Goals and Canon 8 of ASCE’s Code of Ethics and will engage the audience in applications of Canon 8, which requires engineers to treat everyone fairly and to include perspectives from the communities served in planning and performing their professional services.

Steve Starrett, PhD, P.E., D.WRE, F.ASCE, F.EWRI

Dean of Engineering
LeTourneau University


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Yvette Pearson, Ph.D, P.E., F.ASCE

Associate Dean for Accreditation and Assessment
Rice University

Dr. Pearson is the Associate Dean for Accreditation and Assessment in the George R. Brown School of Engineering at Rice University. Originally from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, she earned a B.S. in Civil Engineering and an M.S. in Chemistry from Southern University, and a Ph.D. in Engineering and Applied Science from the University of New Orleans. She chairs ASCE’s Formal Engineering Education Committee, a subcommittee of the Committee on Sustainability, and is Vice Chair of ASCE’s Committee on Diversity and Inclusion. Prior to joining Rice, Dr. Pearson was a Program Director in the Division of Undergraduate Education at the National Science Foundation where she managed a portfolio of roughly $70 million in education research and implementation awards. While serving as Associate Chair of the Department of Civil Engineering at the University of Texas at Arlington, she worked with a team of faculty to provide leadership in efforts to infuse principles of sustainability throughout civil and other engineering curricula. Dr. Pearson has authored/co-authored numerous papers on diversity, equity, inclusion, and sustainability in engineering education, and was a contributing author to the Linton Atlantic book Climate Change and Sustainable Development. A Fellow of ASCE, Dr. Pearson is also a registered Professional Engineer in Louisiana and serves as a Program Evaluator for the Engineering Accreditation Commission of ABET. As founder of the Pearson Evaluation and Education Research Group, LLC, Dr. Pearson passionately leads efforts to help minority serving institutions compete successfully for education funding - especially those programs aimed at broadening the participation of students from excluded identities in STEM.


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Gavin Smith, Ph.D

Associate Research Professor
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Dr. Smith is a Research Professor in the Department of City and Regional Planning at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where he leads a 10-credit hour program focused on Natural Hazards Resilience. Dr. Smith is also the Director of the Department of Homeland Security’s Coastal Resilience Center of Excellence, a consortium of more than 25 universities. Research interests include hazard mitigation, disaster recovery, climate change adaptation, and the translation of research to practice.


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