This course provides a historical overview of computing and its embedding in social and ethical constructs. We discuss a variety of ethical frameworks for evaluating decisions about technology, its development, and its applications.

NOTE : This course was heavily modified in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. We had to move this course online halfway through the semester, which markedly changed how the course ran.

Course Goals

Upon the completion of this course you should be able to:

  1. Explain beneficial and detrimental ways in which computing affects people, including the primary and secondary effects, and intended and unintended consequences.
  2. Utilize theories of ethical decision-making and professional codes of ethics to analyze difficult situations with computing aspects.
  3. Find and critically evaluate relevant literature pertaining to a situation of concern.
  4. Communicate about difficult issues in the computing sciences. This is an ambitious set of goals, which meets several of the requirements for an ABET accredited degree in the Computing Sciences.

Time Required

This course requires a significant amount of work to help you achieve these goals. On average, you need to set aside up to 9 hours a week for this course, including discussion, lecture, other classroom and online activities, reading, studying the materials, homework and team activities.

Readings & Online Materials

Readings and other online materials supplement the lecture slides and the textbook.


Course materials and other information are on Moodle (

Assignments and Course Work

  1. Library Analysis – How to use the library and to find good sources.
  2. Ethical Analysis – A short assignment that uses the tools of ethical analysis to study a scenario.
  3. Debate – As part of a team, you will argue about an ethical dilemma concerning technology in a debate format.
  4. Current Events Presentation – This individual assignment focuses on an interesting and timely topic that shows the impact of technology on society. Each student shall present the topic in class during the term.
  5. Turkle Assignment. This assignment is based on viewing the Turkle video and writing a report. See the Turkle Assignment instructions for content and format.
  6. Weekly Short Quiz – We’ll hold substantial discussion of the week’s topics in class. To ensure you are prepared and have read the material, there is a quiz at the beginning of class on the week’s readings.
  7. Midterm Report – Using your current events topic, you will demonstrate your understanding of beneficial aspects, detrimental aspects, intended and unintended consequences, and societal and ethical issues of your topic.
  8. Final Report – Demonstrate your ability to perform an ethical analysis on your current events topic, utilizing the prescribed format.

Community Service Internship (optional)

NJIT Career Services can provide you the opportunity to work with a Newark-area non-profit organization using your skills to help that organization achieve its goals. These experiences are often valuable, and great service can open doors for you/looks great on your CV/resume!

In-Class Article Review (optional)

1 point if you give a 5-minute presentation on a TV show, podcast, or article you read that’s germane to this class

Required Textbook, Readings & Materials

  • Michael J. Quinn, Ethics for the Information Age, 7th edition (2017).
    • printed, rental and online versions are available through the NJIT bookstore