Syllabus: CS 3111 Computer Ethics
Course Web Page
Course Content and Objectives
After completing CS core and elective courses, UMD students have a solid
technological foundation on which to complete their degrees and build
successful careers. This course is intended to give students a chance to
reflect on the humanitarian, social, and professional impact of computer
technology by focusing on ethical issues faced by and brought about by
computing professionals, including those related to networking and the
internet, intellectual property, privacy, security, reliability, and
We will also focus on issues raised by the
possible emergence in the future of highly intelligent machines.
consider these matters through reading, video/multimedia, writing, discussion, and
Students must have completed an upper-division writing course
before taking this course.
This course addresses
Learning Outcomes (campus-wide):
- Use ethical reasoning to make informed and principled choices (SLO
- Communicate effectively through writing, speaking, and interpersonal
and group interactions (SLO 6)
This course addresses
Liberal Education Humanities Outcomes (campus-wide):
- Students will apply humanistic methods of inquiry and interpretation
to the product/processes of human thought and culture (HU-SLO 1)
- Students will analyze products/processes of human thought and
culture (HU-SLO 2)
- Students will explain how the products/processes of human thought
and culture relate to cultural, social, or historical contexts (HU-SLO 3)
This course addresses these outcomes in
computer science education
specified by the UMD Department of Computer Science and
aligned with the standards put forth by the
ABET accrediting board:
- Recognize milestones in computing, networking, and information
storage and retrieval
- Be familiar with the language and content of ethical discourse
- Understand modern debates surrounding intellectual property
- Appreciate the threats to privacy posed by modern information
- Be familiar with a range of other ethical issues raised by modern
information technology and relevant to computer professionals
Ethical issues in technology are often at the center of the news media
coverage of current events.
The instructor will point out relevant news items on a regular basis and
solicit discussion from the class.
Although the course has a lecture setting,
class participation will be expected,
and students should apply what they learn through
readings and lectures by looking at current events through an ethical lens.
Besides participating verbally in class discussion, students can earn credit
toward the participation requirement by suggesting current events for
discussion. Here are some of the
that were discussed in the course in 2018, and here are
Older News Stories from 2017.
We will meet in a small lecture setting on Tuesdays and Thursdays, when new
material will be presented and discussed.
Accompanying readings from
the text and web sources will be indicated on the course term schedule. The midterm exams and the final exam
will also be given in the small lecture setting. During the last 4
weeks, lecture class periods will be devoted to student
On most Wednesdays the class will engage
in in-class writing
Midterm exams will cover all lecture and reading material, news events
that are covered in class, and multimedia content.
The final exam will cover student presentations.
Coverage and topics will
be given on the course web page well before the time of the exam.
be taken on the hour they are scheduled. They will not be given
early, and can be made up only if documented evidence of medical
emergency or death in the family is presented before the time of the
Thirteen of the Wednesdays will be devoted to in-class writing
Student presentations will occur during the last four weeks
of class on Tuesdays and Thursdays. A list of presentation topics will be compiled from which to
choose. Guidance concerning presentation format and style will also be
provided. More Info
This course is unique among computer science offerings in that it is
conducted like a philosophy course. Indeed, ethics is an area of philosophy.
Philosophy does not take place in a vacuum, but in a setting marked by
civilized dialog, point and counterpoint, example and counterexample.
While we will not shy
away from spirited debate, we will focus on issues only.
At the conclusion of the term, the quality of each student's classroom
participation will be assessed as either weak, satisfactory,
- If a student's classroom participation is satisfactory, his/her
final letter grade will be the grade earned according to the percent of
points achieved as shown in the grade table below.
- If a student's classroom participation is strong, his/her grade
earned according to the grade table will be elevated one level, for
example, from B+ to A-.
- If a student's classroom participation is weak, his/her grade
earned according to the grade table will be lowered one level, for
example, from B- to C+.
- The quality and not merely
quantity of classroom participation will be assessed.
- A good way to contribute is by suggesting and briefly explaining relevant news items.
- Merely attending class without participating will not earn a satisfactory
- Failure to attend class can contribute to a weak participation
Grades will be based on the total points earned on
exams, writings, and presentations. These points
are broken down as follows:
|| points each
| Midterm Exam
| Final Exam
| Writing Assignment
| Grand Total
The final grades will be based on the 610 point total with the following cutoffs:
| % of Points Achieved || Grade Earned
| 90 || A
| 87 || A-
| 83 || B+
| 80 || B
| 77 || B-
| 73 || C+
| 70 || C
| 67 || C-
| 63 || D+
| 60 || D
All writing assignments, presentations, and exam takings are individual, with
no collaboration allowed.
- Student Success Roadmap
- UMD Tutoring Center
- As instructor I shall make every attempt to treat all students
equally, without regard to race, religion, color, sex, handicap, age,
veteran status, or sexual orientation. To inquire
further about the University's policy on cultural diversity, see the
Office of Cultural Diversity.
If you have any disability (either permanent or temporary) that might
affect your ability to perform in this class, please contact Disability Resources, and
inform me at the
start of the semester.
UMD offers free writing support from graduate student or faculty writing
consultants to all members of the campus community at the Writers'
Workshop. The consultants will work with you on any writing project at any
stage in the writing process.
To make an appointment,
visit d.umn.edu/writwork or stop
by the Workshop's front desk; walk-ins are also welcome if a consultant is available. The
Workshop is located in the Learning Commons on the second floor of the
Kathryn A. Martin Library. Look for the wall covered with quotations about
All excellent things are as difficult as they are rare. -- Benedict Spinoza
Page URL: http://www.d.umn.edu
Page Author: Tim Colburn
Last Modified: Tuesday, 15-Jan-2019 14:35:00 CST
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