Fordham, New York City's Jesuit University
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Fordham College at Lincoln Center

Department of Computer & Information Science


 Semester:  Fall, 2016
 Course Number:  CISC 4650 L01
 Course Title:  Cyberspace: Ethics and Issues
 Instructor:  Dr. Robert K. Moniot
    Office LL 821-A, Phone (212) 636-6334
    Office hours: TF 9:00-9:45 AM
    Other office hours by appointment. (I am in my office most days 9-5; call my secretary at x6300 to make an appointment)
 Class Hours:  TF 10:00-11:15, Room LL-311
 Required Texts:  Cyberethics: Morality and Law in Cyberspace, 6th ed., by Richard A. Spinello ISBN 978-1-284-08139-8

Course Outline: This course explores issues of personal and social morality in the context of the 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, on-line privacy, 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 EP4 / 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.) The in-class discussions are essential to the aims of this class. Therefore, no student who misses more than one-third of the class meetings (whether the absences are excused or unexcused) will pass the class.

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:

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 a proposal and first draft of each paper, four weeks and two weeks, respectively, before the due date of the paper itself. The proposal 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 proposal and rough draft.

The student presentations are to be about 20-25 minutes long, followed by about 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.

Readings from some chapters of the text will be assigned for the initial series of lectures on ethical foundations. Other chapters will be suggested for reading according to the topics of the student presentations.

The final exam will consist of a set of questions to be answered with short essays. The questions will probe your understanding of the ethical issues raised by topics covered in the student presentations, and the analysis of those issues based on the ethical foundations covered in the first part of the course. To aid students' studying for the exam, I request a summary of each student's presentation to be submitted at least two weeks before the exam. These summaries will be posted on Blackboard. The summary should be an outline, not your slides. (If there are not enough students enrolled in the class to fill in all the presentation slots, I will give presentations on various topics. These will be treated like the student presentations for purposes of the exam, and summaries of them will also be posted.)

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. You are responsible for and expected to follow the Fordham University policy regarding matters of academic integrity.

The Undergraduate Faculty Handbook states: ``For four-credit courses that meet for 150 minutes [per week], the additional credit is earned by requiring three additional hours of class preparation per week in lieu of an additional hour of formal instruction.'' My expectation is that this additional required time outside class will be used to do thorough and careful research work for the two term papers, using the university library's databases to locate quality scholarly articles, reading them carefully, and following up citations in them to discover other sources.

If you are a student with a documented disability and require academic accommodations, you need to register with the Office of Disability Services for Students (ODS) in order to request academic accommodations for your courses. Please contact the ODS office at Rose Hill at 718-817-0655 to arrange services. The staff at ODS can walk you through the process and arrange appointments depending on which campus you take courses at. Accommodations are not retroactive, so you need to register with ODS prior to receiving your accommodations. Please see me after class or during office hours if you have any questions or would like to submit your academic accommodation letter to me if you are already registered for accommodations with Fordham.

Schedule of Topics, Readings and Assignments:

F Sep. 2:
Course overview.
T Sep. 6:
Ethical principles.

Read Spinello, ch. 1.

F Sep. 9:
Ethical principles.
T Sep. 13:
Ethical theories.
F Sep. 16:
Regulating the Internet.

Read Spinello, ch. 2.

Proposal for Midterm Paper due.

T Sep. 20:
Professional ethics.

Read Johnson, ch. 7 (posted on Blackboard).

F Sep. 23:
Professional ethics.
T Sep. 27:
Student Presentation 1.
F Sep. 30:
Student Presentation 2.

First draft of Midterm Paper due.

T Oct. 4:
Student Presentation 3.
F Oct. 7:
Student Presentation 4.
T Oct. 11:
Student Presentation 5.
F Oct. 14:
Student Presentation 6.

Midterm Research Paper due.

T Oct. 18:
Student Presentation 7.
F Oct. 21:
Student Presentation 8.
T Oct. 25*:
Student Presentation 9.
F Oct. 28:
Student Presentation 10.
T Nov. 1:
Student Presentation 11.
F Nov. 4:
Student Presentation 12.
T Nov. 8:
Election day. University closed.
F Nov. 11:
Student Presentation 13.

Proposal for Final Paper due.

T Nov. 15:
Student Presentation 14.
F Nov. 18:
Student Presentation 15.
T Nov. 22:
Student Presentation 16.

First draft of Final Paper due.

F Nov. 25
Thanksgiving break. No class.
T Nov. 29:
Student Presentation 17.
F Dec. 2:
Student Presentation 18.
T Dec. 6:
Student Presentation 19.
F Dec. 9:
Conclusion, review.

Final Research Paper due.

F Dec. 16:
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.)

*NOTE: Tuesday, Oct. 25 meeting needs to be rescheduled as I will be out of town that day.

Robert Moniot 2016-09-02