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Fordham College at Lincoln Center

Department of Computer & Information Sciences


 Semester:  Fall, 2012
 Course Number:  CISC 4650
 Course Title:  Cyberspace: Ethics and Issues
 Instructor:  Dr. Robert K. Moniot
    Office LL 817-E, Phone (212) 636-6334
    Office hours: TF 10:45-11:45, T 4:00-5:00
    RH Office JMH 340A, Phone (718) 817-5280
    (As chair of CIS, I will often be at RH MWR)
    Other office hours by appointment
 Class Hours:  TF 2:30-3:45 PM, Room LL 515
 Required Text:  Computer Ethics, 4th ed., by Deborah G. Johnson ISBN 0-13-111241-4

Course Outline: This course explores issues of personal and social morality in the context of the new technological developments related to the use of information and communication technology (ICT). ICT includes computer systems and digital media, as well as modern means of communication such as the Internet and wireless devices.

The first part of the course is devoted to constructing a framework within which these issues can be analyzed: the basis of ethical theories, and their application to practical decisions in life. The remainder of the course is organized around a series of seminar discussions of student-presented papers. In the papers, the students are expected to analyze the ethical issues raised by the use of ICT.

The topics of the papers presented by students may be selected from areas such as the following: intellectual property, software piracy, music and video piracy, privacy and information access, defective software, misuse of software, computer crime, viruses and hacking, cryptography and national security, and computer communication and freedom of expression. This list is not intended to be definitive, and students are encouraged to find other relevant topics of interest.

Most of the resources for this class are on the Blackboard web site. For convenience, the syllabus, due dates, and schedule of presentations are also available on the publicly accessible web page:

It is not necessary for the students to have any specialized training in computer or information science. Most of the issues can be understood without any detailed knowledge of the workings of the underlying technology. In any case, the analysis of these issues from a moral perspective is not dependent on their technological basis.

This course fulfills the core requirement of an EP 4 Senior Values Seminar. It can also be applied as a Communications major elective. It is not applicable toward the major or minor in Computer Science or Information Science.

Course Objectives: At the end of this course, students will be able to:

Protocol: Attendance is mandatory, and is graded. Attendance grades are posted on the Blackboard grade book and updated within a day or two of each class meeting. The attendance grade for a given day is on a scale of 5 points. Students get 3 points for mere presence. Points are added, up to a maximum of 5 points, depending on the amount of contribution to class discussion: a score of 4 is for participating a little, and 5 for participating a lot. Students who give a presentation automatically receive a score of 5 for that day. Points may be deducted for lateness or for anything else that interferes with the conduct of the class, so grades below 3 are also possible. An unexcused absence or extreme lateness receives a grade of 0. Students may request in advance to be excused from class for a valid reason. (Excused absences appear in the Blackboard grade book as an ``x'' and are not counted in the total grade.)

Students are expected to arrive on time for class. If you do arrive late, please enter the classroom quietly so as not to disrupt the class in session. If you are expecting to receive papers back, wait and ask me at the end of class.

Students are expected to remain until the end of class, barring a true emergency. If you know in advance that you will need to leave early, inform me before the start of class, and sit near the door so that you can leave without causing a disruption.

Please turn off all cell phones, beepers, etc. during class. Laptops are permitted if used only to take notes. Tape recorders are not permitted unless as an accommodation approved by the Office of Disability Services.

Course grade is based on:

A few reaction essays will be assigned. These essays will be written during class time (15 minutes), and will give students the opportunity to reflect on their impressions of the topic just discussed and how it relates to their own experience. These essays will be peer-reviewed in class, assessing them for clarity of writing, depth of understanding that they show of the issues treated, not on style, grammar, etc. They are counted as extra credit on the class participation score.

The midterm and final papers are to be based on research and written in proper scholarly style, with references for all sources consulted. See the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers, The Chicago Manual of Style, or similar work for guidelines on proper citation style. I request an outline or prospectus and rough draft of each paper, four weeks and two weeks, respectively, before the due date of the paper itself. The prospectus and draft are used to provide feedback to improve the final product. They are not graded, but failure to provide them on time will reduce the grade for the paper. Term papers will be accepted late, but with a penalty that increases with time. Papers may be handed in early, but this does not excuse you from providing the prospectus and rough draft.

The student presentations are to be about 20 minutes long, followed by 30 minutes of discussion led by the presenter. I request an outline and a copy of the slides (if the presentation will use slides) one week before the presentation, so that I can provide feedback and guidance for improving the presentation. After each presentation, the other students will write critiques to provide feedback about the effectiveness of the presentation.

Academic integrity is very important to the mission of the university. Plagiarism or failure to properly cite sources will result in an F on the paper and may result in an F for the course.

If you believe that you have a disabling condition that may interfere with your ability to participate in the activities, coursework, or assessment of the object of this course, you may be entitled to accommodations. If so, please schedule an appointment to speak with me immediately or you may go to the Office of Disability Services (Room LL-207, x6282).

Schedule of Topics, Readings and Assignments:

F Aug. 31:
Course overview.
T Sep. 4:
Ethical principles.

Read Johnson, ch. 1.

F Sep. 7:
Ethical principles.
T Sep. 11:
Ethical theories.

Read Johnson, ch. 2.

F Sep. 14:
Ethical theories.

Outline/proposal for Midterm Paper due.

T Sep. 18:
Professional ethics.

Read Johnson, ch. 3.

F Sep. 21:
Professional ethics.
T Sep. 25:
Student Presentation.

Read Johnson, ch. 4.

F Sep. 28:
Student Presentation.

First draft of Midterm Paper due.

T Oct. 2:
Student Presentation.

Read Johnson, ch. 5.

F Oct. 5:
Student Presentation.
T Oct. 9:
Student Presentation.

Read Johnson, ch. 6.

F Oct. 12:
Student Presentation.

Midterm Research Paper due.

T Oct. 16:
Student Presentation.

Read Johnson, ch. 7.

F Oct. 19:
Student Presentation.
T Oct. 23:
Student Presentation.
F Oct. 26:
Student Presentation.
T Oct. 30:
Student Presentation.
F Nov. 2:
Student Presentation.

Outline/proposal for Final Paper due.

F Nov. 9:
Student Presentation.
T Nov. 13:
Student Presentation.
F Nov. 16:
Student Presentation.

First draft of Final Paper due.

T Nov. 20:
Student Presentation.
T Nov. 27:
Student Presentation.
F Nov. 30:
Student Presentation.
T Dec. 4:
Student Presentation.
F Dec. 7:
Conclusion, review.

Final Research Paper due.

T Dec. 18:
Final Exam, 9:30 am. (tentative date)
(Note that this schedule may need to be adjusted slightly as the course progresses. Any changes will be announced in class and posted on the Blackboard web site.)

Robert Moniot 2012-09-07