CS 4873: Computing, Society, & Professionalism

Instructor: Amy Bruckman
Email: asb at cc.gatech.edu
Office Hours: Find me after class or email for an appointment.


  Stephanie Lee (Head TA), elee463 at gatech.edu A08, Thursdays 12:30 pm-2:25 pm
  Allen Averbukh, aaverbukh3 at gatech.edu A18, F 3:30 pm-5:25 pm
    A23, Thursday 5:00 pm-6:55 pm
  Wilson Chen, wchen631 at gatech.edu A24, Friday 5:00 pm - 6:55 pm
  Talia Ayala Feliciangeli, taliayalaf at gatech.edu A03, W 5:00 pm-6:55 pm
    A09, Thursday 12:30 pm-2:25 pm
  Sanghavi Gaddam, sanghavig at gatech.edu A05, W 6:30 pm-8:25 pm
    A22, Thursday 5:00 pm-6:55 pm
  Arvin Goyal, agoyal301 at gatech.edu A19, F 3:30 pm-5:25 pm
    A11, Thursday 3:30 pm -5:24 pm
  Neha Khandavalli, nkhandavalli at gatech.edu A04, W 5:00 pm-6:55 pm
    A14, Thursday 6:30-8:25 pm
  Yalini Senthil Kumar, ysk3 at gatech.edu A06, W 6:30 pm-8:25 pm
    A15, Thursday 6:30 pm-8:25 pm
  May Le, vy31 at gatech.edu A12, Thursday 5:00 pm-6:55 pm
    A21, F 5:00 pm-6:55 pm
  Zhaoran Ma, makima at gatech.edu A13, Thursday 5:00 pm-6:55 pm
    A20, F 3:30 pm-5:25 pm
  Ramisa Murshed, ramisa at gatech.edu A07, Thursday 8:25 am-10:20 am
    A16, F 8:25 am-10:30 am
  Daniel Nkemelu, dnkemelu at gatech.edu A02, W 3:30 pm-5:25 pm
    A10, Thursday 3:30 pm-5:25 pm
  Ashleigh Nyazema, anyazema3 at gatech.edu A17, F 3:30 pm-5:25 pm
  Rohith Sudhakar, rsudhakar8 at gatech.edu A01, W 3:30 pm-5:25 pm


Lectures MW 11:00 am-11:50 am
College of Business 100
Discussion: On the Canvas for each section, and as a whole class on Piazza

Class Schedule

Learning Objectives

In this class, you will learn about:

What do "right" and "wrong" mean anyway? How is "ethical" different from "legal"? We'll learn about several philosophical approaches to ethics including utilitiarianism, Kantianism, social contract theory, and virtue ethics. The goal is for students to be able to address ethical dilemmas with reasoned arguments, grounded in a combination of these ethical theories.
Professional Ethics
What special responsibilities do we have as computing professionals? What do the Software Engineering Code of Ethics and ACM Code of Ethics say, and how can we use these in our daily practice?
Computing and Society
In what ways does computer technology impact society? We'll talk about a host of issues including privacy, intellectual property, and freedom of speech.


Required Texts:

Please make sure to read the correct edition of the Quinn book, since content in it gets quickly out of date.

Assignments and Grading

Attendance and Participation
Class attendance is required for both lectures and sections. Your section leader will record your lecture and section attendance. All lecture and section meetings are in person.

I hope everyone will attend lecture in person. However, given the current rate of community spread of COVID-19, for lectures you may watch the LIVE stream video if you are concerned about infection. You will report your lecture attendance to your section leader at section. Section attendance is still required to be in person, unless you are ill or have a legitimate excuse.

You may have two unexcused absences from lecture, and this will not affect your attendance grade. You may NOT miss any sections, unless you have a documented excuse. Please remember to get notes from a classmate if you miss a lecture.

If you need to miss class for a legitimate reason, please email the head TA before lecture and your section instructor and the head TA before section. Legitimate reasons for missing class include illness, a job interview, or attending a professional conference. Excuses that will NOT be accepted include for example picking someone up at the airport, having something due in another class, or having furniture delivered. If you need to miss class for the career fair, you may use one of your two unexcused absences. (You don't get a third.)

If you are sick, please stay home. I will be providing low-effort recordings of class (turning a recording on, but focusing on paying attention to people in the room.). Links will be posted on Canvas. Please also get notes from a classmate.

To request an excused absence, please use this form.

The material in this class is best understood through discussion. Therefore, sections are important. Section participation is graded. Your lowest single section grade is dropped.

Before section, you must watch the lectures for that week and do the readings. Your section leader will deduct substantially from your participation grade if you are not prepared.

If you have a legitimate reason to miss section, you may request to attend a different section. Talk to your TA and the head TA. We can not accommodate all such requests due to room size and group size limits, but will try our best.

If you miss section for a legitimate reason and can't make another section, you may be given a makeup assignment. The make-up assignment will typically consist of answering all the questions for discussion in writing, and one more essay that asks you to synthesize what is important Email your TA for the make-up assignment. This includes students who added the class late, are ill, have a job interview, or whatever other reason. Make-up assignments may be handed in up to two weeks after the missed section; up to one-week later for the final section.

No Multi-Tasking in Lecture or Section
Please do not use your laptop or cell phone during section for anything other than referring to assigned readings. Please take notes by hand on paper. If you need an exception to this policy, please set up a time to talk with the instructor.

Reference Format
Please use APA format for all references. APA format is described here.

Homeworks will be graded on a list of criteria (specified on the assignment) such as quality of writing, completeness, insight into technical issues, insight into social issues, etc. For each criterion, you will receive either a check plus, check, or check minus. Most criterion will receive a check. A plus means "you impressed me." A minus means the assignment is incomplete, incorrect, or sloppy in some fashion with respect to that criterion.

Please hand all assignments in on Canvas unless explicitly instructed otherwise.

If English is not your first language, you may request to not be graded on your writing for a particular individual assignment, including the term paper. This means you won't be penalized for bad writing, but you also won't get credit for good writing. To take advantage of this option, you must mark "ESL" (English as a Second Language) on the first page of your assignment/paper. This option is not available for group assignments. We still of course expect you to try to write in correct English, and will do our best to offer useful feedback on your writing.

Late Policy
Assignments are due 15 minutes before the start of our assigned class time on the day they are due (10:45 am ET). Late assignments will be penalized at a rate of 3 pts (one grade step: A becomes A-) per day. Assignments more than one week late will not be accepted.

Please double space your assignments.

Over the course of the term, you have three "late days" where work may be late with no explanation needed. Please mark 'use my late days' on the first page of your assignment/paper if want to use your late days when you make late submissions. Use your late days wisely as different submissions have different weights. If you have used your late days on a low-value assignment like a homework, you can't later transfer them to a different assignment.

Honor Code
This class abides by the Georgia Tech Honor Code. All assigned work is expected to be individual, except where explicitly written otherwise. You are encouraged to discuss the assignments with your classmates; however, what you hand in should be your own work.

Please be careful not to copy sentences from readings/references into your assignments verbatim. Sometimes this happens accidentally. For example, a student may copy and paste a sentence into their file of notes, and then later refer to their notes and forget that the sentence is not their own. If you copy anything into notes, make sure to write where you got it from. Other times, students who are struggling with English as a second language may copy sentences because they are struggling with the language. Do not do this. Remember that we have a lenient policy on grading for ESL students.

If copied sentences are detected and the copying appears incidential, the assignment will be penalized for 5 to 10 points per sentence. If the copying is more extensive, the student will be refered to the Office of Student Integrity.

Statement of Intent for Inclusivity
As a member of the Georgia Tech community, I am committed to creating a learning environment in which all of my students feel safe and included. Because we are individuals with varying needs, I am reliant on your feedback to achieve this goal. To that end, I invite you to enter into dialogue with me about the things I can stop, start, and continue doing to make my classroom an environment in which every student feels valued and can engage actively in our learning community.


Assignments and ideas on this syllabus build on those from everyone who has taught it before, especially Colin Potts, Mary Jean Harrold, Bill Ribarsky, and Spencer Rugaber.