CS 105 Computer Ethics and Society, 1 unit
GEORGE MASON UNIVERSITY Department of Computer Science Summer, 2009

Section A03   Tues.    3:45-6:50 p.m.    R203, Class Dates: 5/19 6/9  /  Final Exam: 6/16/2009
Instructor:  Fred Geldon     Tel. (301) 424-4554        Email:  fgeldon@gmu.edu    
                 Office hours:  After class in classroom and by appointment

Undergraduate Teaching Assistant:
    Alexandra Savage, Email: asavage1@gmu.edu

Students should also use Blackboard for communications from instructors/UTA and for out-of-class discussion.  Students are responsible for checking Blackboard on a regular basis.

Homeworks:    All homework assignments are to be submitted via Blackboard. Instructions are provided on the Blackboard course page. Late homework assignments will be penalized.

TEXT: Quinn, Michael J., "Ethics for the Information Age" 3rd Ed., Add. Wesley, 2008

Legal, social, and ethical issues surrounding software development and computer use. Professional conduct, social responsibility and rigorous standards for software testing and reliability will be stressed. Issues such as liability, intellectual property rights, privacy, security, and crime will be examined in the context of computer use. Students are expected to be able to conduct internet research.


    1. Be able to describe and apply traditional philosophical ethical theories to contemporary situations of technology and computer science.

    2.  Recognize the importance of achieving safety and demanding accountability in CS-related projects, along with some of the difficulties involved.

    3.  Understand the concept of intellectual property rights and their place in our society.
    4.  Be able to critically examine online sources to determine reliability for scholarly purposes or other uses.

CLASS SCHEDULE:    Reading and homework assignments => see link on webct

  1. Out-of-class Assignments (30%) scoring is indicated on each assignment
  2. Quizzes (20%)
  3. Instructor Evaluation (incl. in-class assignments and class participation) (15%)
  4. Final Exam (35%)

Questions regarding instructor evaluations, due dates, late penalties or specific requirements for your section should be addressed directly to your instructor.  To assist your instructor in responding promptly to emailed questions, please indicate your full name, class section and reason for your message in the subject line of your email (e.g. Smith, Bob / CS 105-005 / Homework #1).

There are only four classes during the summer session, and this class relies strongly on class participation.  Therefore, it is very important that you attend every class. If you miss a class you should let the instructor know the reason in advance; otherwise your absence will hurt your grade. This class has a compact schedule and will therefore move more quickly than classes taught during the fall and spring semesters, so it will be difficult to make up ground if you fall behind. If personal or work issues interfere with your ability to focus on the class, please communicate with the instructor or UTA as early as possible and we will try to help you make it through.

* Unless otherwise specified, assignments are to be individual efforts. Plagiarism is governed by the GMU Honor Code and will not be tolerated. Instances of cheating will be referred to the Honor Committe

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 concern requiring legal attention, you should seek specific advice from an attorney of your choice.