CSE/CIT 262 Technology, Ethics, and Global Society (3 credits)

Catalog description:

Inquiry into a wide range of information technology issues, from moral responsibilities affecting  professionals to wider ethical concerns associated with information technology in day-to-day living.  Topics include general aspects of ethics; common ethical theories; professional codes of ethics in IT; privacy, security and reliability in using computer systems and the internet; issues and responsibilities in internet usage; legal issues in IT; global perspectives of computing issues; and general problems related to ethical and responsible computing.


ENG 111, a minimum of 20 credit hours earned

Required Topics: (approximate weeks allocated):

  • Introduction(2)
    • Intro to Course
    • History of computing
    • Introduction to Ethics
    • Ethical Theories (including)
      • Kantianism
      • Act Utilitarianism
      • Rule Utilitarianism
      • Social Contract Theory
  • Networking (2)
    • Email
    • Spam
    • The World Wide Web
    • Ethical Perspectives on Pornography
    • Censorship
    • Freedom of Expression
    • Internet Predators
  • Intellectual Property (2)
    • Intellectual Property Rights
    • Protecting Intellectual Property
    • Fair Use
    • Peer-to-Peer Networks
    • Protections for Software
    • Open-Source Software
    • Legitimacy of Intellectual Property Protection for Software
  • Privacy Issues (2)
    • Perspectives on Privacy
    • Disclosing Information
    • Public Information
    • U.S. Legislation
    • Public Records
    • Covert Government Surveillance
    • Data Mining
    • Identity Theft
    • Encryption
    • International Perspectives and Legislation
  • Computer and Network Security (2)
    • Viruses
    • Worms and Trojan Horses
    • Phreaks and Hackers
    • Denial-of-Service Attacks
    • Online Voting
    • Network Sniffers
  • Computer Reliability (2)
    • Data-Entry or Data-Retrieval Errors
    • Software and Billing Errors
    • Notable Software System Failures
    • Therac-25
    • Computer Simulations
    • Software Engineering,
    • Software Warranties
  • Professional Ethics(2)
    • Codes of Ethics,
    • Whistle Blowing
    • Ownership of Company Data
    • Competitive Issues
    • Employee Behavior and Company Liability
    • Corporate Citizenship
  • Final Presentations (1)
  • Exams/Review (1)

Learning Outcomes:

  1. Formulate and defend a position on an ethical question related to technology.
    • Identify ethical dilemmas in Information Technology and apply ethical theories, such as Kantianism, Utilitarianism, or Social Contract Theory, to determine an appropriate set of actions.
    • Given a specific ethical issue in IT, search for relevant sources to support one or both sides of an argument; identify each source and connect it to the appropriate ethical theory.
  2. Describe the main ethical challenges currently posed by technology. Examples include digital rights management, community standards, databases of personal information (including voter information and criminal information), fair use, freedom of expression, monitoring, technological determinism, unsafe software, and globalization.
  3. Engage with other learners to come to consensus, or mutually accepting differences of opinion, on ethical issues.
    • Analyze, evaluate and critique the writing of other students. Respond to critiques of ones own work by either synthesizing critical viewpoints with your own, or defending your position against critique.
    • Given an ethical dilemma in IT, design a course of action supported by ethical theory an professional practice. Work with a group, coming to consensus even when opinions conflict.
  4. Analyze a proposed course of action for dependence on cultural or community issues. In particular, evaluate a course of action designed for use in the U.S. for its fitness and applicability in another culture.
  5. Take a position on the social responsibilities of software developers and IT workers, and use oral or written methods to communicate your position to others.
    • Describe the key facets of a profession, and take a position on whether or not, for the good of society, IT-related jobs should be organized as professions.
    • Evaluate, from both the IT Professional viewpoint and the user viewpoint, the usefulness and morality of examples of IT policies, privacy policies, professional codes of ethics, and other formal ethical statements made by IT organizations.