CS 306 Synthesis of Ethics and Law for the Computing Professional, 3 units
Department of Computer Science
Course Description -- Fall, 2020

Sec. -001 Mon/Wed  Noon-1:15 p.m.  ONLINE   Maddox  (Class Dates: 8/24 - 12/2)

Sec. -002 Mon/Wed  1:30-2:45 p.m.  ONLINE   Maddox  (Class Dates: 8/24-12/2)

Sec. -003 Mon/Wed  9-10:15 a.m.  ONLINE    Maddox  (Class Dates: 8/24-12/4) 

Sec. -004 Friday  10:30 a.m.-1:15 p.m.  ONLINE    Maddox  (Class Dates: 8/28-12/5) 

Sec. -005 Mon/Wed  9-10:15 a.m.  ONLINE    Otten  (Class Dates: 8/24-12/2) 

Sec. -006 Mon/Wed  Noon-1:15 p.m.  ONLINE   Otten  (Class Dates: 8/24 - 12/2)

Block Final Exam (ALL sections) Date(s):  TBD

Instructor for Sections -001 through -004: Tamara A. Maddox  Email: tmaddox@gmu.edu
Office Hours: after class and/or by appt.

Instructor for Sections -005 & -006: John E. Otten    Email: jotten2@gmu.edu
Office Hours: after class and/or by appt.

Online Class Syllabus: http://cs.gmu.edu/syllabus/syllabi-fall20/CS306.html
Blackboard Link: http://mymasonportal.gmu.edu

GTA's:  Sonia Deana
UTA's: All Sections:  Ecem Gulhan / Zain Fazal
            Sec. 1 (M/W Noon-1:15 p.m.):   Emilia Williams
            Sec. 2: (M/W, 1:30-2:45 p.m.): Ahmad Amin 
            Sec. 3 (M/W, 9-10:15 a.m.):  Joseph Bidinger  
            Sec. 4 (F, 10:30 a.m.-1:15 p.m.):  Sarvajna Kalva 
            Sec. 5 (M/W, 9-10:15 a.m.):  Sydney Howard
            Sec. 6: (M/W, Noon-1:15 p.m.):  Tina Sorrels

Course Prerequisites: CS 105/110, COMM 100/101, ENGH 302; Completion of at least 60 credit hours
Req'd Textbooks:
Herman T. Tavani, "Ethics & Technology," 2nd or later ed.; Maddox, Tompkins, Maddox, "Supplementary Cases and Materials," Fall, 2020 or Summer, 2020.
    **Note: Both texts are available through the GMU bookstore and will be mailed to your home without extra charge for delivery.  To order, go to: gmu.bncollege.com

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 105/110, 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.

Why you should care: This is a course about law, ethics, and big ideas.  We will spend much of our time reading, discussing, and writing about actual legal cases dealing with constitutional and computer-related issues.  It is a chance for you to understand how the law really works, and how it may apply to your future career in computing.  It is also an opportunity to consider the ethics of many computer-related issues that may actually affect you.  We hope to provide you with new insights, and we may challenge what you think you know!  We expect that you will bring us new insights as well.  YOU are the most important component of this class, so please come prepared to think, discuss, and argue!  At the same time, remember to treat others respectfully, even if you disagree with their positions.

Course Outcomes:

  1. Recognize professional responsibilities and make informed judgments in computing practice based on legal and ethical principles.
  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 communicate effectively in oral form.
  4. Be able to communicate effectively in written form.
  5. Be able to work with a partner and/or group to satisfy a complex task.
  6. 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.

Technology Requirements:  Fall, 2020 CS 306 classes are being offered entirely online.  Technology requirements to successfully complete this class a device that can access Blackboard class materials, Internet access sufficient to attend synchronous class virtually through Blackboard Collaborate Ultra, and the use of a working microphone and webcam to allow full participation in class activities.

Writing Intensive Component: CS 306 is a Writing Intensive (WI) Course that, together with CS 321, meets the GMU WI Requirements for the BS CS and BS ACS programs. 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 essays analyzing legal and ethical issues, most of which may be revised and resubmitted for an improved grade after receiving feedback.  Each of the first three essays must meet minimum wordcount requirements and earn a final grade of C or better in order to receive a C or better in the course. Students will also be writing in-class essays for short exams.  In addition, students will work with partners to research and write materials in preparation for their Mock Trials or Creative Projects. 

Grading Policy:
    1. Class Participation (incl. hw & in-class exercises) (10%)
    2. Short quizzes on assigned reading and recent lecture material (10%)
    3. "Quests" on specific cases or course topics (10%)
    4. Essays on topics of law/ethics (15%)
    5. Mock Trial Group Project and Presentation (30% total)
    6. Final Exam (25%)

Late Work:  You are expected to submit all work by the due date.  Late work may be accepted at the discretion of the instructor, but  will be subject to a late penalty, typically 5-10% per day (incl. weekends).  The group project is divided into five parts, and no late work will be accepted after the due date for the next sequential part.  NO late work of any kind will be accepted after Saturday, Dec 5, 2020.  

 Although this is an online class, most sessions will be conducted synchonously through Blackboard Collaborate Ultra.  Students should plan to log in to class each day through BB, prepared to participate through the chat box but also to use audio and webcam when required. 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, and individual grades may be adjusted later in the semester if deemed appropriate based on repeated lack of participation as evidenced by either instructor observation or report by fellow group members. If an assignment requires inclusion of the Class Honor Code Pledge, it may be found here.

Course Recordings: Certain portions of our class sessions and some previous audio and/or video course recordings will be made available through Blackboard for your convenience.  However, please note that instructor lectures and course materials are protected by US Copyright law and also by GMU policy.  Instructors are the sole owners of the copyright on course materials they create.  You may NOT copy, distribute, upload, post, or display CS 306 lectures or course materials, or allow others to do so, without the creating instructor's explicit written consent.  

Honor Code:
Certain assignments, such as the series of analysis essays, 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, please see your instructor and contact the Office of Disability Services (ORS) at (703) 993-2474. All academic accommodations must be arranged through the ODS: http://ods.gmu.edu. Should any accommodations involve a request for time extensions, please make sure that you contact your instructor regarding such extensions well in advance of any specific due date, since some extensions may not be possible without advance notice.

Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS):  Contact CAPS at (703) 993-2380 or http://caps.gmu.edu.
Writing Center: Robinson Hall, Room A114, (703) 993-1200 or http://writingcenter.gmu.edu.

Student privacy rights under FERPA: registrar.gmu.edu/ferpa
General Education:
This course is approved to satisfy the GMU Synthesis Core (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.