This page may have stale information and broken links and is here to give a general idea about the course only.
COMPUTERS and SOCIETY
|Instructor: Clark Savage Turner, J.D., Ph.D.
|Phone: 756-6133||Email: csturner at calpoly.edu|
|CSc Dept: 756-2824||Office Hours: See Turner Main Page under "office hours"
Petroski, Henry. To Engineer is Human, Vintage Press.
- To examine the kinds of tasks to which computers are being applied in the modern world.
- To gain a technical understanding of how computers work to a level sufficient to understand their capabilities and limitations.
- To understand the ways in which computers are affecting us individually and as a society.
- To develop an awareness of the methods used and difficulties inherent in applying computers to solve social, economic, scientific, mathematical, artistic, and commercial problems.
- To think critically about beneficial and detrimental impacts of computers.
- To apply a formal philosophical framework to analyzing ethical issues around computer use.
- To understand and be able to articulate the considerations (which may include scientific, technical, economic, commercial, and social) that are necessary for making rational, ethical, and humane technological decisions.
- To help you as a professional and as a citizen to make informed, reasoned judgements about policy issues regarding computing technology.
This is the tentative plan for the order in which we will explore several topics of the course. If things work out just right, these numbers may indicate Week numbers in the term. Follow the schedule in detail on the PolyLearn CSC 302-01 webpage where the latest and most up-to-date information will be held.
1. Introductions, themes of the course, overview of course syllabus, "how to read" text / paper primer. Read and cover Chapter 1 of the Baase text, "Unwrapping the Gift," during the first week. Begin to read Petroski book. This short, simple book is to be read in its entirety during the first several weeks of class. It is expected that the book will have been thoughtfully read (good journal fodder!) by Week 4 (relevant when we get to Baase Chapter 7.
2. Chapter 3, Basse, "Freedom of Speech"
3. Chapter 4, Basse, "Intellectual Property" (be sure to find the Cal Poly IP Policy and read it)
4. Chapter 7, Baase (dovetail with Petroski text), "Evaluating and Controlling Technology"
5. Chapters 1 - 9 of Petroski will be discussed. What is "engineering" all about and what do engineers really do? How does it affect the rest of us?
6. Chapters 9 - 17 of Petroski will be discussed. What IS the role of engineers in a civilized society? What are the risks and benefits they allocate? Who has the final say about their role? Much of this dovetails with Chapter 8 of Baase.
7. Chapter 8 of Baase "Errors, Failures, and Risks" (Additional references possible including the Therac-25 paper)
8. Chapter 9 of Baase "Professional Ethics and Responsibilities" Wrap up (if we make it this far :-)
If we're lucky or efficient, we can make some additions to the topics.
There will be regular required reading assignments from the
textbook (Baase, Petroski)
and supplemental articles made at times for the class. Class discussions
usually go into depth on a
small number of
issues from the text or current issues related to topics in the text.
Much of the material in the text is not presented or discussed
explicitly in class, so you need to do the readings in advance so you
understand the concepts behind the issues we will discuss in
class. Not only does it do my heart good to see that you have
done the readings, but it will enhance your understanding and possibly
increase your interest and enjoyment of the class.
Student Journals: Weekly Entries Required. You
will keep a journal during this class and weekly entries will be
required (minimum of 300 words per week). This journal will be
kept by the student in the appropriate file structure under Polylearn -
there will be a link there
(to be discussed in class week 1.) In general, the
journal should show your thinking, reaction and analytic responses to
the issues and ideas covered by the readings and discussed in the
Note that the structure below is a rough rubric for grading of your
journal entries. Your grade will reflect the extent to which you
really consider the following:
- Your reaction to key ideas presented
- Ideas you find surprising or new
- Evidence given for or against the arguments made
- Relationship of the issues discussed to your own professional work or aspirations
- Problems you see with the proposed directions or solutions
There will be two in-class written examinations: one midterm and a
final. The questions will
be mainly multiple-choice and scantrons will be required. Exam
rules: present ID, no headsets,
no cell phones, no computers, restricted bathroom
QUIZZES: There will also be (nearly) weekly
quizzes on the readings and highlights of class discussion. The
quizzes will be given on the PolyLearn page and will normally be 10
questions with a 10 minute time limit. The quizzes will be
available for a given amount of time and students are expected to take
them before they close. A zero grade will result for a quiz that
is attempted after it closes. Instructions will be on the page.
Teams will form during the first week of classes and are to be of
size 6 - 7 each. Other sizes for a Team are possible with instructor
approval. Each Team will have the responsibility to cooperatively
produce a final Team Poster for the class and to produce Team Class
Activity Reports periodically (may be a handwritten response or a questionairre provided in class - probably once a week.)
TEAM PROJECTS: POSTER
You will work with several other students on your Team to
topic of current interest about computers in society and present the
results of your explorations to the class in the form of a Poster to be
presented during the last day of class. The topic for the Poster
must be chosen by the Team and approved by the Instructor by second
class of Week 3.
TEAM CLASS REPORTS
During lecture and class discussion we will encounter some important
issues and potential solutions. The instructor may periodically
ask all the teams to come together during class to take 10 minutes to
discuss and make a short written report involving a definition of the
issue, the stakeholders and their interests, the tradeoffs that must be
made and a recommended solution. Each member of the team signs
and dates the report to submit to the instructor during class
(paper). This written work will go into a paper folder
produced by the Team so that the Instructor may collect the Team's work
and organize it in a paper file.
Consult with the instructor about extra credit opportunities.
Possibilites include writing a
If you elect to work on such an
extra credit activity, it must be arranged with the instructor by the second class of week
of the term. There will also
be weekly opportunities to give a
"mini-report." Frequently during class discussions questions of
fact will arise
about which no one in class has accurate information. The instructor
may ask for a volunteer to investigate the question and
report the results at the next class meeting. If you make such a
report and write up one page about it for the instructor, you may
receive one point towards your final grade.
Course Grade Computation
|Proportion of total (%)
||Team Class Reports
Note that class participation is very important
to a class like
this even though the class is large. Your participation is
encouraged and may make a difference in
your grade beyond that indicated above. Participation is not only
comment and response during class, but it is coming to office hours and
raising interesting topics to the Instructor. It can be
getting the best out of your Team.
Missed classes can not be "made up." If you are absent, get notes
and information from other students who were in class. This is
important to exams: actual lectures often stray from the formal posted
lecture notes and you are responsible for the discussions that actually
occur, not just for the published lecture notes or book chapters.
obtain permission to be excused from class for valid academic or
reasons, but it is your responsibility to secure permission from the
instructor BEFORE the date you will be absent. The instructor may
request appropriate documentation of your excuse. The midterm and
final examinations may only be taken during the scheduled exam period.
Overall, University students are
expected to behave responsibly and be accountable for their
actions. On that basis, no late work is accepted in this
class. Assignments, journal entires, short talks / reports are
expected to be submitted to the proper polylearn location (TBD) by the
due date so that they may be graded. Quizzes will be timed and
required to be taken/completed by certain times. No
exceptions. Failure to appear for a midterm or a failure to
participate in your Team's Project Poster will result in a
failing grade for that assignment. No makeups or extra assignments will be given without formal medical documentation.
This course involves both individual work and collaborative work. It is your responsibility to understand the guidelines that apply to each kind of work, and to be clear about which assignments are individual assignments and which are collaborative.
Homework assignments, short talks, journal entries, and exams are
individual efforts. You may verbally discuss the topics, questions, and
solutions with other students and are highly encouraged to do so.
any written work which you submit must be entirely your own. You may
not "work together" to write up
individual assignments. Assignments that appear to be copied from
student or other resource will be considered plagiarized. Failure to
credit outside sources appropriately may be an instance of this sort of
plagiarism. Violations of this policy may
result in being failed
from the course. See the campus statement on Academic Dishonesty:
Cheating and Plagiarism.) When
incorporating the work of another person (a scholar, newspaper, another
student...) into yours, proper citation and credit must be given to the
source or that may be considered plagiarized.
The Team Project is a collaborative effort. Students are expected
to work cooperatively to ensure an even
distribution of work and to facilitate the overall success of the
project. Ideally, each person will take responsibility for a clearly
defined component of the finished product. Each person's contributions must be documented in the credits
page (TBD) of each work product. A single grade is awarded to
everyone for the finished product unless a student has not significantly contributed to it.
The topics in this course are potentially controversial and students
often hold diverse views. It is a core value of academic
discourse to be tolerant of views different than our own and to treat
others with respect.
In addition, an atmosphere conducive to learning can be fostered by
minimizing distractions for others who are trying to
Common courtesies include:
- Arrive on time. If you arrive late please enter quietly and take a seat in the row nearest the door.
- Don't use cell phones or laptops in class unless researching a class discussion topic; turn off any audible alarms.
- Only one person speaks at a time during discussions; no side conversations.
- Wait until class has been dismissed before packing up.
The use of audio-visual recording devices of any kind (camera, tape
recorder, etc) are not allowed without the instructor's permission.
||Revised for Winter 2013