CS-305: Social, Ethical, and Legal Implications of Computing
Syllabus - Spring 2010
Course Reference Number:
CS-305, Spring 2010: 60792 (section: 4)
Instructor: Professor Harry Porter
Office space at PSU: Fourth Ave Bldg, room 115-06
(click here for map)
Office hours: Monday, Wednesday, 3:00-4:00 PM)
When and Where:
Wednesday, 4:40PM - 6:30PM
Clay Building 202 (at 6th Ave & Clay St)
First Class: Wednesday, March 31, 2010
Holiday: (none, but PSU is closed Monday, May 31, 2010)
Final Exam Time: Wednesday, June 9, 2010, 5:30PM - 7:20PM
[photo from Amazon.com]
Ethics for the Information Age (fourth edition),
Michael J. Quinn, Addison Wesley, 2011 (huh?),
The textbook will be available through the PSU Bookstore. Amazon carries this book for $55.52 (new).
History of computing, social context of computing, professional and ethical responsibilities, risks and liabilities of safety-critical systems, intellectual property, privacy and civil liberties, social implications of the Internet, computer crime, economic issues in computing.
Prerequisites: A course in computer science at the 300 or higher level. Sophomore inquiry or a course in public speaking and a course in writing a research paper.
The course has two goals: First, the usual goal of learning the material of the course as described in the catalog entry. A higher priority goal is to instill in you an inclination to use that knowledge. The use of the content of this course is optional in the real world and our primary goal is to motivate its use.
Upon the successful completion of this course students will be able to:
Identify the ethical issues that relate to computer science in real situations they may encounter.
Decide whether a given action is ethical as regards computer science professional ethics, and justify that decision.
Look up relevant ethical standards as developed by the ACM.
Prepare and deliver a short (8-10 minute) professional-quality talk on a topic relating to ethical, legal, and social implications of computer science.
Research and write a professional-quality paper about a topic relating to social, legal, and ethical implications of computer science.
Recognize situations in which there may be legal issues as regards computer science and related topics such as intellectual property, and know some legal principles to apply.
State several important impacts of computer science and related fields on contemporary society.
State several examples of important ethical principles as they apply to computer science related situations.
The official course prerequisites are:
A computer science course, 300-level or higher
A course ins public speaking
A course in writing a research paper
This course is for computer science majors so we will assume a certain familiarity with the basic concepts of computers and technology. There is not much technical material in this class.
There will be at least one paper and you'll do an in-class presentation.
We assume you've written papers and done presentations; we'll view this as an opportunity to practice and improve these skills.
It is the student's responsibility to ensure that he/she has the
appropriate background before attempting this class.
Your grade will be based approximately, as follows.
These percentages are tentative and subject to change.
15% - Homeworks
15% - Class participation
25% - Research Paper
25% - Presentation
15% - Final
5% - Attendance
Grades so far:
PDF of point spreadsheet
PDF of bar chart
PDF of point spreadsheet
PDF of bar chart
Incompletes will not be given, except under extreme, exceptional circumstances.
Every student is required to submit one written report of about 2,000 words. Every student must submit a draft version of the report. Both are graded.
Every student is required to give an 8-10 minute oral presentation to the class. Every student must submit a draft version of the slides for the speech. Both are graded.
There will be approximately 5 homework assignments. Homeworks are due at the beginning of class. Late homeworks will not be accepted without prior approval.
The final exam will be in-class, not take home. It will be closed
book, closed notes.
The questions will have short answers, maybe
some multiple choice. I will try to keep the answers down to a
sentence or less, since I feel grading essay questions is too
My goal will be to ensure that you've read the textbook.
Attendance in class is mandatory. Successful students will arrive on-time, relaxed and full of curiosity.
Attendance will be checked regularly and will count for part of your grade.
Regarding Due Date and Time:
Please bring your homework submissions to class.
All assignments are due at the beginning of class, and not one second later!
I will collect submissions before lecture and I will not accept submissions after
I begin class.
The reason I am such a stickler about this is that I do not want students to miss
lectures because they are trying to finish up a paper or homework.
Plan ahead; all due times are "hard."
I will make extensions to deadlines in the case of medical emergencies
and business travel if you contact me ahead of time.
MailMan Mailing List: PorterClassList
A "MailMan" email list will be maintained for this class.
From time to time I may post notices about the class and comments
about assignments. Students are encouraged to send mail to the list, too.
All students should
subscribe to this list. Go to the following web page and
enter your email address and a password and click "subscribe".
The MailMan program will email you a confirmation message. You must reply, but you can simply hit your email "reply" button. After being adding to the mailing
list you will get a "welcome" message from me.
To post a message to all the list members, send email to:
For additional documentation, see
staff.imsa.edu/~ckolar/mailman/mailman-userguide-0.1.pdf (pdf, 159 kb)
(By the way, if Internet Explorer does not work with MailMan on the Mac, use the "Safari" web browser instead.)
I encourage students to freely discuss the class material amongst each other.
You may also use the class mailing list to post questions, comments, and opinions about social/ethical/legal matters.
However, you must compose and write all homework, research paper, and exam material individually.
You may not copy or plagiarize. If you use copied material, you must quote it and reference it properly.
Hints on how to study effectively:
Here is a document I wrote, which you may find useful or interesting:
Professor Porter's Study Tips
For inclement weather information, call the University switchboard, 725-3000,
for a recorded message about university-wide class cancellation.
Snow closure info is also available at:
www.flashnews.net/pdx.html (click on "View Current Info").
If I should need to cancel class for any reason, I will email the class mailing list.
Office Hours: By appointment
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