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:
Tues, Fridays, Sundays Submit the current Explore Topics and Case Discussion assignments in Canvas.
View the Home or Assignment tab for exact due dates and times.
Because software changes frequently,
there might be bugs, typos, and broken links in this textbook that cause confusion.
Earn a point of extra credit for reporting problems using the Canvas Bug Report forum.
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.
Emotional & Cultural Intelligence
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 being challenged or confronted with 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.
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.
Click the person_pinInstructor button, which launches the Canvas Inbox.
button to launch a chat session with a librarian. This service is available 24/7.
Click the homeHome button to read the Introduction and Logistics.
Click the infoSyllabus button and read it thoroughly.
Click the library_booksChapter buttons to work on each week/module's requirements.
This week's objectives lists the major lessons of the chapter and allow you to jump down to them.
Red messages are...important; read them. ;-)
+ Orange headlines can be opened to reveal
blue numbered lessons and closed to shorten the content for scrolling and printing.
view_moduleChapters & Assignments
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 two assignments will be due in a week.
Explore Topics files and Examine A Case Discussions
⬆ Shiftrefresh Shift-Refresh this page to see the most up-to-date instructions.
Explore Topics writing assignments (rather than quizzes)
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 criteria.
Examine a Case Discussions will allow groups to research and discuss actual cases
to analyze the results.
Click on the assignment 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 (22 points)
1.1 Explore Canvas.
1.3 Explore Topics: course logistics and requirements.
1.9 Edit, download, and submit the Explore Topics file.
1.10 Examine a Case Discussion.
The Ethical Framework (24 points)
2.1 Explore Topics Introduction.
2.2 Set up a news feed.
2.3 Set up the Template and Reading List
2.4 Edit, download, and submit the Explore Topics file.
2.5 Performing Ethics = Rational Examination.
2.6 Ethical framework for computer science.
2.7 Examine a Case Discussion: Facebook and Cambridge Analytica.
Software & Data Development (23 points)
3.1 Explore Topics Introduction:
data science, artificial intelligence, machine learning, deep learning, big data, software development methodologies, data acquisition and retention, online advertising, laws, and organizations.
3.2 Set up the Template and Reading List.
3.3 Edit, download, and submit the Explore Topics file.
3.4 Examine a Case Discussion: software failures.
Rights, Privacy, and Cybersecurity (25 points)
4.1 Explore Topics Introduction: rights, electronic privacy, cybersecurity, laws, and organizations.
4.5 Set up the Template and Reading List.
4.6 Edit, download, and submit the Explore Topics file.
4.7 Examine a Case Discussion: security failure.
The Hardware Lifecycle (26 points | 24 points Honors)
5.1 Explore Topics Introduction:
design models, raw materials, e-waste, workforce, safety, and prosperity, and laws.
5.5 Set up the Template and Reading List.
5.6 Edit, download, and submit the Explore Topics file.
5.7 Examine a Case Collaboration and Discussion: disruptive hardware technologies.
Infrastructure, Access, and Justice (23 points)
6.1 Explore Topics Introduction: infrastructure, digital divide, mobile justice, and net neutrality.
6.5 Set up the Template and Reading List.
6.6 Edit, download, and submit the Explore Topics file.
6.7 Examine a Case Discussion: access and justice.
Looking at Technology through a Cultural Lens (23 points | 24 Honors)
7.1 Explore Topics Introduction:
discrimination, inclusive design, leaky pipeline, bias in AI, and hiring laws.
7.5 Set up the Template and Reading List.
7.6 Edit, download, and submit the Explore Topics file.
7.7 Examine a Case Discussion: company diversity.
Dilemmas in the Workplace: A look ahead* (26 points)
8.1 Explore Topics Introduction:
Association for Computing Machinery, whistleblowing, role-play your future job.
8.4 Set up the Template and Reading List.
8.5 Edit, download, and submit the Explore Topics file.
8.6 Extra Credit: Examine a Case Discussion: expert talks.
* CS major portfolio project
The Fourth Industrial Revolution (23 points)
9.1 Explore Topics Introduction:
the fourth industrial revolution, robot economy, crowdsourced and blockchain economies, and what we'll need to succeed.
9.5 Set up the Template and Reading List.
9.6 Edit, download, and submit the Explore Topics file.
9.7 Examine a Case Discussion: eradicating poverty.