CS 501: Professional Ethics and Communication in Technology Related Fields

(Coordinators: Benjamin Myler)

Catalog description

A mixed lecture/seminar course intended to improve both reasoning and ability to communicate effectively in front of an audience. Students learn basic forms of ethical argument, they read about ethical situations in which technology and technology professions play a key role, and they participate in student­-led discussions about the reading. Students also make oral presentations about both ethical and technical topics, and evaluate each other’s presentations in order to improve their sense of what makes a good presentation.


  • good written and oral communications skills: oral presentations skills on technical topics, research on technical topics in support of a thesis for a paper or presentation.
  • aware of social and ethical issues related to computing and the computing profession: analysis of ethical issues that arise in computing and technology.


  • Oral presentation 45% (a three minute oral presentation 5%, a 15 minute technical talk 15%, an ethics discussion in conjunction with discussion leading 5%, and a 20 minute ethical/technical presentation 20%)
  • Class preparation and participation 15%
  • Peer Evaluations 15%
  • Research Checkpoints 15%
  • Discussion Leading 10%


  • Introduction to Ethics and Ethical Constructs
  • Applying ethical theories: spam, censorship, intellectual property, privacy reliability
  • Authority, trust and appropriate sources
  • Identifying stakeholders
  • From idea to thesis to story
  • Verbal/oral presentation
  • Identifying your audience
  • Developing specific examples
  • Making the right/personal impression



  • M. J. Quinn, Ethics for the Information Age, 6th Edition. Pearson/Prentice Hall, 2014