The Course


Syllabus for Computer Ethics (Acrobat (PDF) 100kB Jun23 08)

Catalog Description

Application of ethical theories to problems created, aggravated or transformed by computer technology. Topics include, for example, privacy, computer crime, professional responsibility, replacement of human decision-making by computer decision-making, intellectual property, globalization of ethical issues.

Author's Comments

Ever since this course was first taught in 1988, it has been a "work in progress," evolving as new developments in information technology generated new social and ethical challenges, and as the instructor tried new teaching materials and new pedagogical methods. The description of the course that the reader finds here is a "snapshot" of the course as it exists in the Fall 2006 semester. There is no doubt that the course will continue to evolve in the future.

The biggest challenge in teaching this course

The biggest challenge that the instructor has faced in teaching this writing intensive course has been the need to provide sufficient writing advice and assistance to students whose mother tongue is not English. Three quarters of the students in the class are Computer Science majors, and a number of them (perhaps two to five students per semester) have transferred into the University from colleges in non-English-speaking nations (primarily in Asia or the Middle East). They often transfer their English composition credits from abroad and nevertheless cannot actually write grammatical English. Every semester, the instructor spends many hours working with such students and writing extended comments on their paper drafts. During some semesters, nearly half of the instructor's time has been devoted to working with these students. Normally, the instructor also refers them to the University's Campus Writing Center for help from professional writing tutors. In the future, the instructor will continue to work with the Writing Center and the Writing-Across-the-Curriculum Program to find ways to better serve students whose mother tongue is not English.