CS 4001B: Computing, Society, & Professionalism

Instructor: Amy Bruckman
Email: asb@cc.gatech.edu

Technology Square Research Building (TSRB) 338

  (On 5th Street; the building with Moe's in it.)
Office Hours: Find me after class, or email for an appointment.


TA: Cindy Robertson
Email: leistner@cc.gatech.edu
Office: TSRB 333
Office Hours: Find me after class, or email for an appointment.


Location: Howey (Physics) S204

Tuesday, Thursday 3-4:30

CoWeb: http://swiki.cc.gatech.edu:8080/cs4001b-fl06
Newsgroup: git.cc.class.cs4001b (server: news.gatech.edu)

Class Schedule

Learning Objectives

In this class. you will learn about:

What do "right" and "wrong" mean anyway? How is "ethical" different from "legal"? We'll learn about several philosophical approaches to ethics including utilitiarianism, Kantianism, social contract theory, virtue ethics, and feminine 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 Ethics
What 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 Society
In what ways does computer technology impact society? We'll talk about a host of issues including privacy, electronic voting, and freedom of speech.
Argumentation & Communication Skills
How 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.



Required Texts:

Assignments and Grading

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 without an appropriate, documented excuse.

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.

If English is not your first language, you may request to not be graded on your writing for a particular individual assignment, including the term paper. This means you won't be penalized for bad writing, but you also won't get credit for good writing. To take advantage of this option, you must mark "ESL" (English as a Second Language) on the first page of your assignment/paper. This option is not available for group assignments. We still of course expect you to try to write in correct English, and will do our best to offer useful feedback on your writing.

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, Mary Jean Harrold, Bill Ribarsky, and Spencer Rugaber.