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:

We will consider these matters through reading, video/multimedia, writing, discussion, and presentation. Students must have completed an upper-division writing course before taking this course.

Office Hours:

The class meets in a small lecture setting on Tuesdays and Thursdays, when textbook material and relevant current events will be presented and discussed. On most Mondays the class will perform in-class writing assignments (see menu).
Ethics for the Information Age, 7th edition, by M. J. Quinn (opens in a new window).
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 and appeal to sound reasoning rather than emotion.

At the conclusion of the term, the quality of each student's classroom participation will be assessed as either weak, satisfactory, or strong.

Note also:
The total number of points possible on exams, writing assignments, and the student presentation are shown on the right.

Grades are assigned based on percentage of total points as shown below. The grade cutoffs will never be raised; but they may be lowered.

% of Total Grade
90 A
87 A-
83 B+
80 B
77 B-
73 C+
70 C
67 C-
63 D+
60 D
Item Number Points Each Total
Midterm Exam 2 75 150
Final Exam 1 50 50
Writing Assignment 12 20 240
Presentation/Report 1 100 100
Grand Total 540
The course Term Schedule opens in a new window.
Ethical issues in technology are often at the center of the news media coverage of current events.

Although the course has a lecture setting and topics are organized around a textbook, news items will be regular topics for discussion:

News is often presented in multimedia form, e.g. podcasts, videos, TED Talks, or documentaries, that is suitable for discussion. Examples are also shown through the menu.
The menu shows news stories by year.

Linked pages are opened in an external window.

This course addresses the following student learning outcomes:

Student Learning Outcomes (SLO's):

Liberal Education Humanities Outcomes (HU-SLO's):

Computer Science Department Program Outcomes:

All writing assignments, presentations, and exam takings are individual, with no collaboration allowed.