CS 105 Computer Ethics and Society

Spring 2016, 1 Credit - George Mason University

This is a 10-week course and the final exam will be in class on the 11th week.





Class Dates

Final Exam



9:00-10:15 am

Art and Design L008

1/23 - 4/3




9:00-10:15 am

ENGR 2608

1/25 - 4/5


Instructor: Prof. John Otten     Email: jotten2@gmu.edu     Phone: (703) 993-1669

Office hours (ENGR 5335): Wed 10:30-11:30 AM, Thur 9:30-11:00 AM, or by appointment

Undergraduate Teaching Assistant:

Benjamin Wenzel          Email: bwenzel2@masonlive.gmu.edu

Office hours: By appointment

If you are experiencing difficulty with the course, please contact the instructor or UTA for assistance. We are here to help you learn. Blackboard is the primary resource, but office hours and email are also available. When communicating by email, please be specific in the subject line about the course, section number and topic to avoid being flagged as spam. E.g. Subject: CS 105 Section 002 / Question about Kantianism

Course Description

Legal, social, and ethical issues surrounding use of computers and the internet. The course will stress ethical decision-making as well as legal and social responsibility in connection with technology-related concerns. Issues such as security, crime, privacy and intellectual property will be examined in the context of computer use. Students may be requested to conduct research on the internet in any of these areas and/or learn to use practical technological tools related to privacy and security.

Learning Outcomes

  1. Students will understand many of the key ethical, legal and social issues related to information technology and how to interpret and comply with ethical principles, laws, regulations and institutional policies. 
  2. Students will understand the essential issues related to information security, how to take precautions and use techniques and tools to defend against computer crime.

Prerequisites: None

General Education: This course has been approved to satisfy the GMU General Education requirement for one credit of IT Ethics.

Special Accommodations: Students with disabilities who need academic accommodations must work through the Office of Disability Services at (703) 993-2474.

Course Work
This is a discussion-based course. You are expected to attend all course meetings and participate in conversations about course material as well as in-class activities relevant to the course. To facilitate this, assigned readings are to be done before class.

There are two major writing assignments to be done outside of class, which comprise a substantial portion of the overall grade. Additional work such as outside research, group presentations, or contributing to discussion board topics may be assigned.

It is important that you attend class on a regular basis. You may attend an alternate lecture session presented by the same instructor if you miss your own. However, unless you obtain advance approval from your instructor, you may not receive credit for class participation when attending a section by a different instructor.

Grading and Evaluation
Grading will be based on two major assignments, in-class quizzes, class participation, and the final exam. These are weighted as follows:

2 Out-of-class assignments



In-class quizzes (usually not announced)



Final Exam



Class Participation (incl. attendance, preparation and discussion)



Unless otherwise specified, all papers and other written assignments are to be individual efforts. Certain portions of group assignments may require individual efforts as well. Be careful to follow instructions regarding acceptable group efforts. Plagiarism is governed by the GMU Honor Code and will not be tolerated. Instances of cheating and/or plagiarism will be referred to the Honor Committee.

Absences and Participation Credit
Any absences from class for health or emergency reasons are excusable only if reasonable notice is provided, in advance if possible.

Late Work -  
Unless an extension is given, late assignments will carry a daily penalty (typically 5-10%) for every day late (up to 50%). Pay attention to deadlines!

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.