CS 306 Synthesis of Ethics and Law for the Computing Professional, 3 units
Department of Computer Science
Course Description -- Fall, 2009

Sec. -001 Tues. 10:30 a.m.-1:10 p.m. S&T 2, Room 15
Class Dates: 9/01-12/08; Final Exam: Tues., 12/15/09 from 10:30 a.m.-1:15 p.m.

Sec. -002 Tues. 4:30-7:10 p.m. Enterprise Hall, Room 173
Class Dates: 9/01-12/08; Final Exam: Tues., 12/15/09, 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 2:30-4:00 p.m. and Thursdays 10:30-11:30 a.m.
Instructor's Home Page: http://cs.gmu.edu/~tmaddox

Online Class Syllabus: http://www.cs.gmu.edu/syllabus/syllabi-fall09/CS306MaddoxT.html
Class Schedule:
Link (use the CS 306 Combined Courses folder): https://gmu.blackboard.com

Undergrad. Teaching Assistants: Emily Vorek: evorek@gmu.edu, Nimisha Sahay: nsahay@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," 2nd Ed,. 2007; 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 and software liability issues, 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.

Students will investigate the role of ethics for the computer professional in various situations through individual and group work. Students should be prepared to participate during class activities and to interact with their classmates. Students will refine their personal points of view on various ethical issues and consider how such issues - and their own views - impact on professional colleagues, clients and the general public.

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. Understand historic and contemporary views of professional ethics.
  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. Enhance oral communication and public speaking skills.
  5. Enhance written communication and persuasive writing skills.
  6. Be able to work with a partner and/or group to satisfy a complex task.

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 a series of short reflective essays on various topics related to technology and computer law and ethics. At least one of these essays will be revised and resubmitted for an additional grade. Students will also work with partners to research and write materials in preparation for their Mock Trials and in groups to prepare original hypothetical scenarios related to computer law and ethics.

Grading Policy:

1. Reflective Essay Assignments (min. 375 words each) + revised version(s) (15% total)
2. Midterm Exam (15%) (Tentative exam date:  Oct. 20)
3. Written preparatory materials for the Mock Trial (10% total)
3. In-Class Mock Trial {To be scheduled during weeks 11/10, 11/17 and 11/24} (10%)
4. Original Group Scenario (including drafts and meetings w/ UTA or instructor) (20%)
5. Homework, Class Participation, In-class Exercises & Instructor Evaluation (10%)
6. Final Exam (20%)

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.