CS 391 – Social & Ethical Issues in Computing


Catalog Description: In-depth exploration of the social, psychological, political, and ethical issues surrounding the computer industry and the evolving information society. (Baccalaureate Core Course)


Meetings: MWF: 1-1:50pm, LINC 302

Credits: 3

Prerequisites: CS 101, computer literacy

Textbook: Computers, Information Technology, the Internet, ethics, Society and Human Values by Philip Pecorino

You are responsible for any material presented in class, even if not covered by the textbook, and for the material in the textbook even if not covered in class.


Instructor: Carlos Jensen – KEC 3031     

Email: cjensen@eecsMark all email with cs391 in subject


TA: Kim Kaaz (Kaazk@eecs)

Class mailing list: cs391-002-sp16@engr



Course Content:


This course satisfies Bacc Core requirement: Synthesis of Science, Technology and Society


Measurable Student Learning Outcomes:

At the completion of the course, students will be able to…

  1. Analyze relationships among science, technology, and society using critical perspectives or examples from historical, political, or economic disciplines. 
  2. Analyze the role of science and technology in shaping diverse fields of study over time.
  3. Analyze a moral problem related to information technology from the point of view of a consequentialist ethical theory
  4. Analyze a moral problem related to information technology from the point of view of a nonconsequentialist ethical theory
  5. Explain the roles and responsibilities of a computer professional
  6. Articulate in writing a critical perspective on issues involving science, technology, and society using evidence as support.


Students with Disabilities:

Accommodations are collaborative efforts between students, faculty and Disability Access Services (DAS). Students with accommodations approved through DAS are responsible for contacting the faculty member in charge of the course prior to or during the first week of the term to discuss accommodations. Students who believe they are eligible for accommodations but who have not yet obtained approval through DAS should contact DAS immediately at 737-4098.





200-180 A

179-175 A-

174-170 B+

169-160 B

159-155 B-

154-150 C+

149-140 C

139-135 C-

134-130 D+

129-120 D

119-0      F


There are no make-up assignments or exams unless you arrange with me ahead of time with a valid excuse.

Attendance is MANDATORY the first week, if you do not attend 2 of the 3 classes, you will be dropped from the course.

In general: Students who do not attend lectures WILL do very poorly in this class (C or lower).


Policies regarding academic honesty can be found at http://arcweb.sos.state.or.us/pages/rules/oars_500/oar_576/576_015.html and compliance is expected for this course. It should go without saying that cheating on an ethics course is frowned on. Doing so will result in an F.







M – 3/28


W – 3/30

History of computing

Read: Ch 1, http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/computing-history/ , https://www.bookyourdata.com/computers-changed-history , http://www.tcf.ua.edu/AZ/ITHistoryOutline.htm

Required watching: Memex, Xerox Star, Xerox and Apple

Recommended watching: The Mother of all Demos, Pirates of Silicon Valley

F – 4/1


M – 4/4

Introduction to Ethical Frameworks

Read: Ch 2 & 3

W – 4/6


F – 4/8



M – 4/11


W – 4/13

Ethics in practice


F – 4/15



M – 4/18

Professional Ethics

Read: Ch 10

W – 4/20

Read: ACM Code of Ethics

F – 4/22

Paper 1 due, Midterm Review


M – 4/25


W – 4/27

Intellectual Property

Read: Ch 5

F – 4/29

Watch: Anti piracy screener, DVD trailers


M – 5/2


W – 5/4

Free Speech & Censorship

Read: Ch 4

Required watching: 7 dirty words 1, 7 dirty words 2

F – 5/6



M – 5/9

Crime & Misbehavior

Read: Ch 8

W – 5/11

F – 5/13

Summary due (Ch4) (Example)


M – 5/16

Privacy & Security

Read: Ch 6 & 7

W – 5/18

Paper 2 due

F – 5/20



M – 5/23

Summary Due (Ch 8, 6, 7)

W – 5/25

Computers and Society

Read: Ch 11 & 12

F – 5/27

Paper 3 due


M – 5/30

Memorial Day – No Class

W – 6/1

Summary Due (Ch 11 & 12)

F – 6/3

Final review & summary