Spring ’08

Information about Spring 2008 offering of CS 4001


Class Time/Location:

  • Tuesday and Thursday 9:35am – 10:55am
  • ROOM: MBldg G021


Although Computing, Society and Professionalism is a required course for CS majors, it is not a typical computer science course. Rather than dealing with the technical content of computing, it addresses the effects of computing on individuals, organizations, and society, and on what yourresponsibilities are as a computing professional in light of those impacts. The topic is a very broad one and one that you will have to deal with almost every day of your professional life. The issues are sometimes as intellectually deep as some of the greatest philosophical writings in history – and sometimes as shallow as a report on the evening TV news. This course can do little more than introduce you to the topics, but, if successful, will change the way you view the technology with which you work. You will do a lot of reading, analyzing, and communicating (verbally and in writing) in this course. It will require your active participationthroughout the semester and should be fun and enlightening.

Learning Objectives

In this class. you will learn about:

EthicsWhat do “right” and “wrong” mean anyway? How is “ethical” different from “legal”? We’ll learn about several philosophical approaches to ethics including utilitiarianism, Kantianism, stakeholder analysis, and virtue ethics. The goal is for students to be able to address ethical dilemmas with reasoned arguments, grounded in a combination of these ethical theories.Professional EthicsWhat special responsibilities do we have as computing professionals? What do the Software Engineering Code of Ethics and ACM Code of Ethics say, and how can we use these in our daily practice?Computing and SocietyIn what ways does computer technology impact society? We’ll talk about a host of issues including privacy, intellectual property, and freedom of speech.ArgumentationHow do you construct a well-reasoned argument? Whatever you go on to do in your professional career, your success will arguably depend more on your oral and written communication skills than on your technical skills. This class is one of your few and precious opportunities to work to improve those skills.

Assignments and Grading

  • Class Attendance (16%)
  • Class Participation (16%)
  • Homeworks (28%) [There will be 4 Assignments]
  • Midterm (10%)
  • Term Paper (30%)
    • Includes: paper proposal, outline and final report and presentation

Class attendance is required. Please remember to sign the attendance sheet each class.Homeworks will be graded on a list of criteria (specified on the assignment) such as quality of writing, completeness, insight into technical issues, insight into social issues, etc. For each criterion, you will receive either a check plus, check, or check minus. Most criterion will receive a check. A plus means “you impressed me.” A minus means the assignment is incomplete, incorrect, or sloppy in some fashion with respect to that criterion. Pluses and minuses are combined to give your grade for the assignment. For most assignments, you start out half way between a B+ and A-. One plus makes it an A-; one minus makes it a B+. These are general guidelines to let you know what to expect. Grading on specific assignments may differ.Assignments are due at the start of class on the day they are due. Late assignments will not be accepted PERIOD.You will have the opportunity to revise your term paper. Your final term paper grade will be the average of your first and revised grade. To hand in a revised paper, you must hand in three things: a copy of the original paper with instructor comments on it, a copy of the revised paper, and a copy of the revised paper with changes highlighted. You may highlight changes with a highlighter pen, or use the ‘version tracking’ feature of many word processors.This class abides by the Georgia Tech Honor Code. All assigned work is expected to be individual, except where explicitly written otherwise. You are encouraged to discuss the assignments with your classmates; however, what you hand in should be your own work.


Assignments and ideas on this syllabus build on those from everyone who has taught it before, especially Colin Potts, Amy Bruckman, Jim Foley, Mary Jean Harrold, Bill Ribarsky, and Spencer Rugaber.


  1. Week of Jan 7 (MODULE: INTRODUCTION)
  2. Week of Jan 14 (MODULE: ARGUMENTATION)
    • Tue 01/15/2008: Argumentation.
      • READING: WA 1 & 2
      • DUE: ASSIGNMENT #1 by 9am.
      • ASSIGNMENT #2 OUT: DUE 01/22/2008 9am.
    • Thu 01/17/2008: Ethics.
      • READING: GF Chapter 1.
  3. Week of Jan 21 (MODULE: ETHICS)
    • Tue 01/22/2008: Deontology & Social Contract Theory
      • READING: Quinn Chapter 2., GF 1.4
      • DUE: ASSIGNMENT #2 by 9am.
    • Tue 01/24/2008: Stakeholder Analysis & Virtue Ethics
  4. Week of Jan 28 (MODULE: PRIVACY)
    • Tue 01/29/2008: Privacy & Computing I
      • READING:GF Chapter 2 (2.1, 2.2, & 2.3, please look at the Exercises too(p 129 onwards).
      • ASSIGNMENT #3 OUT: DUE 02/12/2008 9am
    • Thu 01/31/2008: SESSION TO WORK on ASSIGNMENT #3
  5. Week of Feb 4
  6. Week of Feb 11 (MODULE: FREEDOM of SPEECH)
    • Tue 02/12/2008: Feedom of Speech I
      • DUE ASSIGNMENT #3: 9am
      • READINGS: GF Chapter 3 (3.1 to 3.3, and exercise at the end).
    • Thu 02/14/2008: Feedom of Speech II
      • READINGS: GF Chapter 3 (3.4 to 3.6, and exercise at the end).
    • Tue 02/19/2008:Intellectual Property I
      • READINGS: GF Chaper 4 (4.1 to 4.4, and exercise at the end).
    • Thu 02/21/2008: Intellectual Property II
    • READINGS: GF Chaper 4 (4.5 to 4.7, and exercise at the end).
  8. Week of Feb 25
    • Tue 02/26/2008: Discussion of Final Research Project/Paper
    • Thu 02/28/2008: NO CLASS
  9. Week of Mar 3
    • Tue 03/04/2008: Writing Arguments
      • READINGS: Writing Arguments WA Chapter 4 and 5.
      • DUE: Topic for Final Project
    • Thu 03/06/2008: PATENTS and IP
  10. Week of Mar 10
    • Tue 03/11/2008:
      • MidTerm Exam IN CLASS (1/2 Multiple Choice Closed Book, 1/2 Open Book)
        • MAKE SURE TO REVIEW GF Chapters 1-4, Quinn Chapter 2, and WA, Chapters 1-5
        • SAMPLE MidTerm
    • Thu 03/13/2008:
      • Media and Ethics.
      • DUE: Outline of Final Project
  11. Week of Mar 17
    • Tue 03/18/2008 Spring Break!!!
    • Thu 03/20/2008 Spring Break!!!
  12. Week of Mar 24
    • Tue 03/25/2008: Class Discussions about Mid Term and Term Paper
    • Thu 03/27/2008: GUEST SPEAKER on Patents and IP.
      • DUE: Identify Sources to support FINAL Term PAPER
  13. Week of Mar 31
    • Tue 04/01/2008: Hacking & Computer Crime I
      • READ: GF Chapter 5
    • Thu 04/03/2008: Hacking & Computer Crime I
  14. Week of Apr 7
    • Tue 04/08/2008: Computing and Changes in Work (Environment/Approach/Policies) I
      • READ: GF Chapter 6
    • Thu 04/10/2008: Evaluating and Controlling Technologies
      • READ: GF Chapter 7
      • DUE: FINAL Project: DRAFT #1.
  15. Week of Apr 14
    • Tue 04/15/2008: READ Chapter 8
    • Thu 04/17/2008: READ Chapter 9
  16. Week of Apr 21
    • Tue 04/22/2007 Final Project Presentations DUE in class
    • Thu 04/24/2007 Final Project Presentations
  17. Week of Apr 28 (Final Exams Week)
    • Final Reports DUE

Topics to Schedule

  1. Media
  2. E-Democracy

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