Professor, Designer, Husband, Father, Gamer, Bagpiper

((CS4873C Schedule and Readings)) ((CS4873C Homeworks))

Lecture Time: MW 9:30-10:20 in Teams

  • Many lectures will be asynchronous using pre-recorded lectures (will annotate the schedule with which class period will have synchronous content)
  • Instructor and/or TAs will be available to meet during the lecture time when there is no synchronous activity scheduled.

Discussion Section Times: See Canvas for your discussion section time

  • All sections held virtually, using Teams or Bluejeans at the discretion of the section's TA.
  • Sections are synchronous and attendance is required every week.

Class on Microsoft Teams: We will use channels in Teams for discussion and lectures (when they are live)

Professor's Office Hours: MW 10:20 - 11:00am

Head Teaching Assistant: Jas Pyneni (jpyneni at

Teaching Assistants (and their sections):

Name (GT mail @ Discussion Section
Stanley Cantrell (cantrell) C09: Thursday 03:30 pm-05:25 pm
C14: Friday 12:30 pm-02:25 pm
Ezekiel Day (eday30) C04: Wednesday 05:00 pm-06:55 pm
C08: Friday 12:30 pm-02:25 pm
Sanghavi Gaddam (sanghavig) C03: Wednesday 05:00 pm-06:55 pm
C05: Thursday 05:00 pm-06:55 pm
Arvin Goyal (agoyal301) C11: Friday 05:00 pm-06:55 pm
Nate Knauf (nate.knauf) C02: Friday 12:30 pm-02:25 pm
C10: Friday 03:30 pm-05:25 pm
Vy (May) Le (vy31) C13: Friday 03:30 pm-05:25 pm
Stephanie Lee (elee463) C01: Thursday 8:25 am-10:20 am
C06: Wednesday 06:30 pm-08:25 pm
Kylie McArthur (kmcarthur3) C07: Thursday 05:00 pm-06:55 pm
C15: Wednesday 06:30 pm-08:25 pm
Jas Pyneni (jpyneni) C12: Thursday 12:30 pm-02:25 pm
Dhruv Samdani (dsamdani) C16: Friday 03:30 pm-05:25 pm
C17: Thursday 05:00 pm-06:55 pm

Course Description

In this class, you will learn how to be a responsible and ethical computing professional. You'll learn about ethics, how to construct well-reasoned arguments, and about how to apply workable ethical frameworks to difficult problems regarding computing and society. We'll start by learning foundational ethical frameworks, and gradually apply these frameworks to navigate difficult real world scenarios in which computing affects society. By the end of the course, you won’t have all the answers to the ethical dilemmas facing society, but you should have the tools necessary to responsibly approach ethical dilemmas you may face in the workplace.

Learning Objectives

In this class, you will learn about:

  • Ethics: 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.

A secondary objective is:

  • Argumentation: How do you construct a well-reasoned argument? Whatever you go on to do in your professional career, your success will arguably depend more on your oral and written communication skills than on your technical skills. This class is one of your few and precious opportunities to work to improve those skills.


The GT Library's Web Localizer is useful for research you need to do for this class. You may also need it to access some assigned readings.

Assignments and Grading


The weekly schedule is available here.

Course Details

We will use Canvas and Microsoft Teams for the class.  Synchronous sessions will be scheduled through teams and held there.  Teams channels will be used for Q&A, although we may also set up Piazza on Canvas (TBD).  Canvas will be used for assignments, announcements, and grades.

Class discussion sections will be run by the TAs, and will use Teams or Bluejeans as they prefer (see your Canvas section for links).  Attendance is required for discussion sections.

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 your discussion section, you must attend or 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.

A reading commentary will be due most weeks, before the start of the class they are assigned for.

A short quiz will be due at the end of the week, to verify that you have watched the videos and done the reading. Your lowest quiz score will be dropped.

If you miss section for a legitimate reason, 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 essays 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.

Reference Format

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

No Multi-Tasking in Section

Please do not use your laptop or cell phone during section for anything other than video conferencing, taking notes, and referring to assigned readings.

Please keep your camera ON during section. It's easier to have a meaningful conversation when you can see everyone. If you are having bandwidth problems, you may ask your TA if it's OK to turn the camera off.


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.

Please double space your assignments.

ESL Accomodations

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 at midnight (11:59pm) on the day they are due. 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.

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 incidental, the assignment will be penalized for 5 to 10 points per sentence. If the copying is more extensive, the student will be referred 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.

Mental Health

As college students, it can be hard to prioritize your health, especially when you are pushed to prioritize academics, work, and extracurricular activities in the middle of an ongoing pandemic, COVID-19. The instructor and Head TA are happy to talk to you privately if you need mental health related accommodations. Please also refer to the various campus resources to access timely, professional help as well as self-care tips.


Assignments and ideas on this syllabus build on those from everyone who has taught it in 2020, especially Amy Bruckman, Sauvik Das, Beki Grinter, and Munmun De Choudery.

Banner image: "Future Interfaces 2014"by NYC Media Lab, licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0