CS 391: Social and Ethical Issues in Computer Science
Oregon State University, College of Engineering
About this Course
Official: In-depth exploration of the social, psychological, political, and ethical issues surrounding the computer industry and the evolving information society. (Bacc Core Course, 3 credits).
Prerequisites CS 101 or computer literacy. This syllabus is for the online section and some on-campus sections.
This course fulfills the synthesis requirement for Science, Technology, and Society (STS)
For people working in the advanced field of Computer Science, technological
progress seems painfully slow. And yet, there are many who argue that
the forces of technology are already too strong and changing the face
of the earth too fast for society to cope. Given this polarity of thinking,
your education demands a pause to confront the social, legal, and ethical issues
presented to us by the problems and advances in the field, if we
are to be socially responsible producers and consumers of technologies.
Philosophy of Teaching
I prefer to mentor, demonstrate, and share methods rather than mandate the memorizing of information. This approach, along with ample opportunity to explore and practice methods allows creative students to put themselves in a professional mode right away—if they're up for it—and use the freedom to study in a direction that interests them.
Technical challenges are opportunities to find solutions, through exploration, systematic troubleshooting, and group interaction. In group interactions, students have the opportunity to teach others; a highly successful way to learn. I like to engage students by bringing them to the podium to share their own methods. When teaching/learning online, this work happens in the discussion forums; again modeling the way professionals often solve problems.
Course content is presented in a variety of formats to aid a diverse student population. Links to multimedia-rich online tutorials aids the auditory and visual learners. Well-organized and well-designed course materials aid the visual learners and the learners who need only to read to understand new concepts and procedures.
Student Evaluation of Teaching
During the last week of the course you will be asked to evaluate the teaching of this course.
Login to the MyOSU Student Online Services area to participate.
Instructions are located on the Ecampus website.
Your Feedback is greatly appreciated!
more_horizLogistics and Communications
Add notes about this typical schedule to your calendar so you stay on track:
Every few days: Submit the current project or discussion.
The following is adapted from Dr. Susan Shaw, Oregon State University
Make a personal commitment to learning about, understanding, and supporting your peers.
Assume the best of others in the class and expect the best from them.
Acknowledge the impact of sexism, racism, ethnocentrism, classism, heterosexism, ageism, and ableism on the lives of class members.
Recognize and value the experiences, abilities, and knowledge each person brings to class. Value the diversity of the class.
Participate actively in the discussions, having completed the readings and thought about the issues.
Pay close attention to what your classmates write in their online comments. Ask clarifying questions, when appropriate. These questions are meant to probe and shed new light, not to minimize or devalue comments.
Think through and re-read your comments before you post them.
Never make derogatory comments toward another person in the class.
Do not make sexist, racist, homophobic, or victim-blaming comments at all.
Disagree with ideas, but do not make personal attacks.
Be open to be challenged or confronted on your ideas or prejudices.
Challenge others with the intent of facilitating growth. Do not demean or embarrass others.
Encourage others to develop and share their ideas.
Be willing to change.
By the time you finish this course and leave the university,
you will want to have practiced appropriate ways to communicate in writing so that you appear professional at all times.
NACE's Job Outlook 2018
lists attributes employers want to see on new college graduates' resumes.
Written Communication Skills is in the top 3!
Remember that when you communicate online,
you cannot provide eye contact and body language to help explain yourself,
so your message may be misunderstood.
Sometimes the thread of a message is lost,
making readers rely on memory (which is often faulty).
And if you need the reader to act on your request, good manners will help you be successful.
Some of the topics we'll cover in this class will evoke negative feelings.
So that the sharing of those feelings is met with
support and not more negativity, our behavior towards each other
will remain civil. We will use our best manners when questioning ideas
so that all students (as well as the instructor and teaching assistants)
feel safe and not alienated or bullied.
This is the way of the world...without manners, the world descends into chaos.
If you feel you are being harassed or bullied in this course, please report it
to the instructor immediately. Describe the situation and provide links to the
locations of the harassment so the instructor can address it.
Any students who do not follow the guidelines above will be dealt with in the following ways:
A private message from the instructor asking for a behavior change.
definitions and guidelines for quarter credits
imply that 90 hours of your time will be needed to
attend lectures (or read the required materials),
understand the key concepts and laws,
participate in discussions,
and complete research writing for this 3-credit course (that's 9 hours per week).
The 8-week Summer Session will require more time per week because more than one assignment will be due in a week.
Discussions and Case Examinations
Students will explore key concepts and laws and
write about them in weekly discussions and case examinations.
Discussions for on-campus students will take place in class and in Canvas.
Discussions for online students will take place in Canvas.
Case Examinations will be written in Google Slides templates and submitted to Canvas.
They will automatically be checked for plagiarism in the Canvas/TurnItIn area.
Scoring will be provided via Canvas Rubric where feedback and examples are available for most criterion.
Click on the project names below to read descriptions, scoring criteria, examples, and detailed instructions.
All chapters are subject to change so watch the Canvas Announcements for updates.
Prepare to Succeed (17 points)
1.1 Explore course logistics.
1.7 Explore Canvas.
1.9 Discussion: Group Introductions.
1.10 Examine cases of modern learning and course requirements.
1.12 Edit, download, and submit the file.
The Ethical Framework (28 points)
2.1 Performing Ethics = Rational Examination.
2.2 Explore an ethical framework for Computer Science.
2.3 Explore speech and censorship.
2.4 Explore cyberbullying.
2.5 Explore the Media Bias Chart.
2.6 Set up a news feed.
2.7 Discussion: Speech, Censorship, Cyberbullying, and Media Bias.
2.9 Examine a case: Facebook Scandals.
Software & Data Development (34 points)
3.1 Explore software development methodologies.
3.2 Explore where data comes from.
3.3 Explore online advertising methods.
3.4 Explore Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML).
3.5 Laws and organizations regulating software and data development.
3.6 Expert Talks
3.7 Discussion: Software Development problems.
3.9 Examine a case: software or data failure.
Cybersecurity (34 points)
4.1 Explore rights.
4.2 Explore electronic privacy.
4.3 Explore cybersecurity.
4.4 Explore cybersecurity laws and organizations.
4.5 Expert talks.
4.6 Discussion: Rights, Privacy, and Cybersecurity.
4.8 Examine a case: privacy or cybersecurity breach.
The Hardware Lifecycle (31.5 points)
5.1 Explore hardware design models.
5.2 Explore raw materials and e-waste.
5.3 Explore workforce, safety, and prosperity.
5.4 Laws related to hardware and the workforce.
5.5 Discussion: social problems related to disruptive technologies.
5.6 Examine a case: timeline of disruptive technologies
Infrastructure, Access, and Justice (30 points)
6.1 Explore information technology infrastructure.
6.2 Explore the digital divide.
6.3 Explore mobile justice.
6.4 Explore net neutrality.
6.5 Discussion: access and justice
6.6 Examine a case of lack of access or of mobile justice.
Looking at Technology through a Cultural Lens (36 points)
7.1 Explore discrimination and the problems it causes.
7.2 Explore the leaky pipeline.
7.3 Explore bias in Artificial Intelligence.
7.4 Explore USA laws in place to avoid discrimination.
7.5 Discussion: discrimination.
7.6 Examine a case: future employer through a cultural lens.
Dilemmas in the Workplace: A look ahead (42.5 points)
8.1 Explore the ACM.
8.2 Expert talks.
8.4 Explore all the topics covered in the course.
8.5 Discussion: ACM and Whistleblowing.
8.7 Examine a case: Ethical Dilemmas in Information Technology.
The Future of computing (33 points)
9.1 Explore good intentions.
9.2 Explore the robot economy.
9.3 Explore the crowdsourced and blockchain economies.
9.4 What we'll need to succeed.
9.5 Discussion: the digital economy.
9.6 Examine a case: countries using technology to eradicate poverty.