CS 306 Synthesis of Ethics and Law for the Computing Professional, 3 units
Department of Computer Science
Course Description -- Spring, 2017

Sec. -001 Tue/Thu  9-10:15 a.m.  Innovation Hall, Room 207
Class Dates: 1/24-5/4; Final Exam: Thu. 5/11/17 from 7:30-10:15 a.m.

Sec. -002 Tue/Thu  10:30-11:45 a.m.  Innovation Hall, Room 209
Class Dates: 1/24-5/4; Final Exam: Tue. 5/16/17, from 10:30 a.m.-1:15 p.m.

Sec. -003 Tue/Thu  1:30-2:45 p.m.  Innovation Hall, Room 209
Class Dates: 1/24-5/4; Final Exam: Tue. 5/16/17, from 1:30-4:15 p.m. 

Instructor: Tamara A. Maddox  Email: tmaddox@cs.gmu.edu   Office: ENGR 5347
Telephone: (703) 993-1525  Office Hours: Tues. 3-4./Thu. 12-1 and by appt.

Sec. -004 Wed  4:30-7:10 p.m.  East Building, Room 122
Class Dates: 1/25-5/3; Final Exam: Wed. 5/10/17 from 4:30-7:15 p.m.

Instructor: Fred Geldon    Email: fgeldon@gmu.edu   
Telephone: (301) 424-4554   Office Hours: Wed. 3:30-4:15, location TBA, or by appt.

Online Class Syllabus: http://cs.gmu.edu/syllabus/syllabi-spring17/CS306.html
Class Schedule:
Link: http://mymasonportal.gmu.edu

GTA:  Mary Baldwin (mbaldwi4@gmu.edu) 
UTAs: Sec. 1: Christine Tomczak (ctomcza2@gmu.edu)
            Sec. 2:  Beverly Tomczak (btomczak@gmu.edu)
            Sec. 3:  Steve Collins (scolli19@gmu.edu)
            Sec. 4:  Dayana Hudson (dhudso22@gmu.edu)

Course Prerequisites: CS 105, COMM 100, ENGH 302; Completion of at least 60 credit hours
Req'd Textbooks:
Herman T. Tavani, "Ethics & Technology," 4th Ed,. 2016; Maddox, Tompkins, Maddox, "Supplementary Cases and Materials," Spring, 2017.

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.

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.  I hope to provide you with new insights, and I may challenge what you think you know!  I expect that you will bring me 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. 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 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, one of which may be revised and resubmitted for an improved grade after receiving feedback.  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. Essays on topics of law/ethics (20% total)
    3. Midterm Exam - Tentatively scheduled for March 7 & 8 (15%)
    4. Mock Trial Group Project and Presentation (35% total)
    5. 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. If an assignment requires inclusion of the Class Honor Code Pledge, it may be found here.

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.

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.

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.