Syllabus: CSE 3981 Social and Ethical Issues in Computing
- Dr. J. Edward Swan II <firstname.lastname@example.org>
- Fall 2010
- Course Time and Location
- Mon, 1:00 pm–1:50 pm, 104 Butler Hall (usually)
Wed, 1:00 pm–1:50 pm, 104 Butler Hall (weeks when Mon is a
- Office Hours and Location
- Mon and Wed, 4:45 pm–6:00 pm, 104 Butler Hall
- Course Prerequisites
- Senior standing
- Catalog Description
- One hour lecture. Study of major social and ethical issues
in computing, including history of computing, impact of computers on
society, and the computer professional's code of ethics.
- Course Goals
- Students will develop an awareness of their responsibilities and
duties as computing professionals. Students will also acquire
an appreciation for the history of the computing discipline and their
place in it. They will analyze the social implications of the
rapid computerization of our culture. They will also consider
various computer crimes, how these crimes arise, and methods for
preventing them. In addition, students will argue both sides of
various computing-related issues and controversies. Finally,
students will formulate their own code describing their moral and
ethical responsibilities as computing professionals, and compare it
to other major computer ethics codes.
- Required Text
- Michael J. Quinn, Ethics for the Information Age (4th
edition), Pearson/Addison Wesley, Boston, MA, 2011.
By your senior year, you, as an emergent computer professional,
should have developed enough of an understanding of and identification
with your field to understand and accept its code of ethics. This
course will be taught mostly by you and your fellow students, as a
seminar. In the seminar environment, we hope that you will try to
thrash out these important social issues yourself, justifying to
yourself and internalizing the ethical attitudes of responsible members
of your chosen profession. This course will require you to
present formal oral presentations, write short "my opinion" papers, and
participate in informal weekly discussions. For the final exam
you will write a case study paper. The goal of these assignments
is to help you consider important ethical dimensions of computing, as
you move from the protected academic environment to the real world of
your first professional full-time employment after
- Philosophical bases for computer ethics
- Reliability and safety of computer systems
- Protecting software and other intellectual property
- Privacy and information
- Computer crime and legal issues
- Computers and social issues
- Issues on the impact and control of computer technology
- Professional codes of ethics (ACM and IEEE)
|My Opinion Papers:
|Final Case Study Paper:
Each student will make a ~20-minute oral presentation to the class
during the semester, and will then lead the class discussion on this
topic for the rest of the class session. This presentation will
be concerned with one of the sub-areas under discussion on the day of
his or her oral presentation and should consist of a summary of and
introduction to the material being discussed.
Students will be assigned a topic from those listed in the course
outline. Students will research their topics, take notes, outline
their talk, and prepare a presentation using visual aids such as
slides. On the scheduled date, each student will deliver their
talk, and then lead the discussion during the rest of the class.
Students will turn in their slides after their talk.
You will be graded on the depth and originality of your analysis of
the topic; the number and quality of your bibliographic citations; the
organization, clarity, and persuasiveness of your class presentation;
the effectiveness of your visual aids, and how appropriately you use
My Opinion Papers:
Each student will write 6 short (~500 words) "my opinion" papers on
various topics that arise during the class discussion. These
papers will express your personal position regarding a computer ethics
topic. Each paper should include (1) a clear statement of
your opinion, (2) a well-reasoned discussion of the factors involved in
the issue and a justification of why you hold your opinion, with (3)
reference to one or more philosophical theories of ethics. The
instructor will suggest various topics for the my opinion papers, but
students may also select their own topics.
Since a student's opinion cannot be judged to be "right" or "wrong",
these papers will be graded on how thoroughly and deeply the issue is
analyzed and explored and on how well the student expresses and defends
their ideas. The papers will also be graded on the proper use of
grammar, spelling, and punctuation.
Each my opinion paper will have an announced due date; late my
opinion papers will not be accepted.
Final Case Study Paper:
The final exam for this class will be a case study paper,
approximately 5 to 10 pages in length. The paper must discuss a
case that is relevant to our study of computer ethics. The goals
of the paper are to summarize the case, analyze it, and discuss your
reaction to it. This paper will be due at the beginning of the
last regular class meeting.
This part of the grade will depend upon attending class and
participating in the class discussion. Each unexcused absence
will cost 2 points of participation grade; up to a total of 10 points
for 5 unexcused absences.
Students who are auditing the course must attend at least 75% of the
class meetings in order to receive a passing grade.
A student who misses class or is late with an assignment, and who
feels their situation is due to exceptional circumstances, should
immediately discuss the matter with the instructor, and the instructor
may waive the late penalty and/or grant an appropriate extension.
From Technical Communication Tutors:
Shackouls Technical Communication Program provides writing tutors
each semester to assist you with all writing-related issues, from
routine writing assignments for your classes to senior-design reports,
theses, and job-application materials. You may email electronic
copies of your documents in Word or PDF form to the writing tutors for
them to check; be sure to submit them early enough for the tutors to be
able to return your papers prior to the due date.
From Each Other: You may also partner
with others in the class to proof-read each other's papers. Any
writer will tell you that proof-reading is an excellent way to improve
your own writing. However, you must ensure that proof-reading
does not cross the line and become writing your fellow student's paper
for them; this would constitute academic misconduct.
Academic Honesty / Misconduct and Collaboration
In this course, students are expected to uphold the Mississippi
State University Honor Code:
"As a Mississippi State University student I will conduct myself
with honor and integrity at all times. I will not lie, cheat, or
steal, nor will I accept the actions of those who do."
Upon accepting admission to Mississippi State University, a
student immediately assumes a commitment to uphold the Honor Code, to
accept responsibility for learning, and to follow the philosophy and
rules of the Honor Code. Students will be required to state
their commitment on examinations, research papers, and other academic
work. Ignorance of the rules does not exclude any member of the
MSU community from the requirements or the processes of the Honor
Students are also expected to maintain the standards of academic
honesty that are described in the CSE Department's Undergraduate Studies Academic Honesty
Policy (CSE 4833). These are important policies. Not
only will violators fail to learn the course material, but violators
will receive an "XF" in this course, and will otherwise be handled
according the CSE Department's Undergraduate or Graduate Studies
Academic Honesty Policies, as well as the Academic
Operating Policy and Procedure of Mississippi State University.
As a professor at Mississippi State University, I am required to
report all incidents of academic misconduct.
In terms of academic misconduct, in this course there are two
primary dangers: (1) using somebody else's writing as your own, and (2)
failing to properly cite your sources.
Right to Change
I reserve the right to change the course policies or schedule in
order to facilitate instruction. Any such changes will be
discussed in class and updated on the course web site.
Personal Electronic Devices: Students
must respect their fellow students and not disrupt class. Therefore,
cell phones, pagers, other such alarms, or personal conversations which
disturb the lecture are not allowed. Students with personal
laptops are encouraged to bring them to class; however, laptops are not
required for this course.
Grade of Incomplete (I): Following MSU
policy, incomplete grades will only be given in extreme circumstances,
such as illness, death in a student's immediate family, or similar
circumstances beyond a student's control.
No Food or Drinks in Class: It is the
CSE department's policy that you can't eat or dink in Butler Hall
Email: When I send class-related
email, I will use your email@example.com email
Drop / Add Policy: This class follows
University's Official Drop/Add Policy:
November 26, 2010
A. Add/Drop without penalty — A student
has through the fifth class day into the semester to drop a course
and through the sixth class day to add a course without being
assessed a fee or academic penalty.
B. Drop after the fifth class day through the 30th
class day into the semester — A student who elects to drop
a course during this period must receive the approval of his/her
advisor, will be assigned a W on his/her academic record, and be
assessed a fee. The advisor who permits the drop will specify
its effective date.
C. Drop after the 30th class day into the
semester — A student cannot drop courses after this period
except in documented cases of serious illness, extreme hardship, or
failure of the instructor to provide significant assessment of
his/her performance. A request to drop a course during
this period must be approved by the student’s advisor and
academic dean. The dean who permits the drop will specify its
effective date. A student receiving permission to drop will
receive a W on his/her academic record and be assessed a fee.
D. Faculty are expected to provide a student with
significant evidence or assessment of his/her class performance
within the first 30 class days of the semester.