CS 306 Synthesis of Ethics and Law for the Computing Professional, 3 units
Department of Computer Science
Course Description -- Fall, 2011

Sec. -001 Tues. 10:30 a.m.-1:10 p.m. Nguyen ENGR, Room 4457
Class Dates: 8/30-12/06; Final Exam: Tues., 12/13/11 from 10:30 a.m.-1:15 p.m.

Sec. -002 Tues. 4:30-7:10 p.m. Robinson, Room A101
Class Dates: 8/30-12/06; Final Exam: Tues., 12/13/11, from 4:30-7:15 p.m.

Instructor: Tamara A. Maddox Email address: tmaddox@cs.gmu.edu
Telephone: (703) 993-1525 Office: The Engineering Building, Room 5347
Office Hours: Tuesdays 3:00-4:00 p.m. and Thursdays 9:15-10:15 a.m.
Instructor's Home Page: http://cs.gmu.edu/~tmaddox

Online Class Syllabus: http://cs.gmu.edu/syllabus/syllabi-fall11/CS306MaddoxT.html
Class Schedule:
Link (use the CS 306 Combined Courses folder): http://mymason.gmu.edu

: Sec. 1: Aaron Foltz (afoltz@masonlive.gmu.edu); Sec. 2: Matt Szaro (mszaro@masonlive.gmu.edu)
            At large / Special Projects: David Scherzinger (dscherzi@gmu.edu)

Course Prerequisites: CS 105; Completion of at least 60 credit hours; Concurrent enrollment or completion of all other general education requirements.
Required Textbooks:
Herman T. Tavani, "Ethics & Technology," 3rd Ed,. 2011; Maddox, Tompkins, Maddox, "Supplementary Cases and Materials," 2008.

Course Description: This course is intended to help students become effective professionals in the field of computer science by examining many of the challenging legal and ethical issues surrounding computer technology and its use, and building a foundation for dealing with those challenges. Students will examine the philosophical bases for ethical decision-making and how to apply them to issues raised by computers and technology. Specific topics covered in CS 105, such as intellectual property concerns, will be addressed by this course in a more intensive manner. Emerging legal and ethical issues involved in the computer profession and e-commerce will also be addressed.

Throughout the course, students will be expected to apply critical thinking skills in individual and group settings to evaluate various issues related to computer law and ethics. Students will connect issues of technology to wider societal concerns through class discussion, a mock trial, and the creation of a hypothetical trial scenario. Students will use critical thinking skills to evaluate and prepare formal arguments concerning their assigned mock trial topics, which they will present to their classmates. Students should be prepared to participate during class activities, to interact with their classmates, and to reflect upon and refine their personal points of view on various ethical issues.

Course Outcomes:

  1. Be able to identify, describe, discuss and critique traditional theories of philosophical ethics, and to apply those theories to various types of problems and situations in a systematic manner, in order to evaluate their relative merits and compare their resulting conclusions.
  2. Be able to connect issues of computer technology to wider community and societal concerns using perspectives of law, ethics and computer science.
  3. Be able to recall and discuss specific issues and technologies in various substantive areas of computer law and ethics as presented in class or in assigned readings, particularly intellectual property rights generally and copyright law specifically.
  4. Be able to communicate effectively in oral form.
  5. Be able to communicate effectively in written form.
  6. Be able to work with a partner and/or group to satisfy a complex task.
  7. Be able to apply critical thinking skills to evaluate the quality, credibility and limitations of an argument or a solution using appropriate evidence or resources.

Writing Intensive Component: CS 306 is a Writing Intensive (WI) Course that, together with CS 421, meets the GMU WI Requirements for the BS CS Program. Accordingly, each student in CS 306 is required to write a minimum of 1750 individual words, which will be graded and returned to the student with feedback. This requirement will be fulfilled by preparing a hypothetical trial scenario on a topic of law and ethics, to be submitted in several stages, including at least one draft that will be given feedback and revised for an additional grade. Students will also write individual essays reflecting on certain aspects of the class or their own work. Additionally, students will work with partners to research and write materials in preparation for their Mock Trials.

Additional Classes: Students will be required to attend workshops and possibly add'l mock trial sessions outside of regular class time.

Grading Policy:

1. Original Group Scenario (including all drafts and revisions) (15%)
2. Mock Trial preparatory assignments (15% total)
3. In-Class Mock Trial {expected trial dates: 11/15, 11/22 and 11/29} (15%)
4. Midterm Exam (Tentative exam date: Oct. 4) (10%)
5. Homework, Class & Workshop Participation, In-class Exercises & Inst'r Evaluation (20%)
6. Final Exam (25%)

Students should plan to attend class regularly, prepared to participate. Failure to do so will be reflected in your class participation grade. Group project grading may include a confidential review of participating group members by each student. All major assignments require inclusion of the Class Honor Code Pledge found here, or they will not be accepted.

Honor Code: The Reflective Essay Assignments are to be individual efforts. Certain homework and portions of group or team assignments may require individual effort as well. Failure to give proper credit by using quotes and cites constitutes plagiarism. See here for an explanation of quotes and cites for this class. If you have any questions about proper citation method, contact your instructor. Plagiarism is governed by the GMU Honor Code and will not be tolerated. Suspected honor code violations will be referred to the Honor Committee.

Special Accommodations: If you are a student with a disability and you need academic accomodations, please see your instructor and contact the Disability Resource Center (DRC) at (703) 993-2474. All academic accomodations must be arranged through the DRC.

General Education: This course is approved to satisfy the GMU Synthesis Gen. Ed. requirement.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: None of the information presented in this course should be considered specific legal advice. Each situation is unique and requires individual attention. Students with individual legal concerns should not rely on information obtained in this course in making any legal decisions. Should you have a problem or concern requiring legal attention, you should seek specific advice from an attorney of your choosing.