Course Information

IFSC 2200 Ethics in the Profession
University of Arkansas at Little Rock
Instructor: Daniel Berleant,

  • In-class section: Spring 2018, MW11:00-11:50 in EIT 218
  • Online section: The schedule will be synchronized with the in-class section as much as possible.

Student Learning Outcomes: At the end of this course, students will be able to

  1. apply the concepts of deontological, consequentialist, and virtue ethics in analyzing ethical problems,
  2. lead small group discussions on ethics cases related to the computing profession,
  3. produce a coherent paper or other creative work of significant scale with an ethics related theme, and
  4. provide informed contributions to discussions of ethics cases related to data privacy and security.

Grading:  Assignments will be scored on a scale from a low of 50% for something not handed in, to a high of 100% for a perfect score.
A: 90-100,    B: 80-90,    C: 70-80,    D: 60-70,    F: 50-60


Homeworks (100 pts. each). Each student in the classroom will be in a group of approximately 8 classmates. Each has responsibility for preparing, and leading their group in discussion about, one ethics case for each unit of the course. T

There will be approximately 6 units, or general topics, in the course. Each unit will take approximately four class sessions. About half the HWs will ask you to prepare detailed notes to help you present and lead discussion of an ethics case to your group (or for online students, post facts and analyses on your blog). These notes must be done and ready to use before class, so you can use them during class. These HWs will also ask you to upload an additional writeup on the ethics case, based on your notes, the group discussion that you lead, and/or analyses.

The other half of the HWs will ask you to develop a semester project. So some HWs will relate to the current class topic, and some will relate to a semester-long project.

Late HWs: 10 points off if your HW or any part of it is up to 1 week late; 25 points off for very late HWs.

Attendance (10 pts. per class day). Attendance will be taken frequently. If you are sick or have some other valid reason, please let me know to avoid losing points. Half credit for attendance if arriving late, or leaving early, without a reason. (For students attending online, “attendance” means you posted notes to your blog; half credit if late.)

Project: A paper, story, video, computer program, web site, skit, rap, original musical performance, or some other creative product (200 pts.). This should relate to the course, but the precise topic is up to you (subject to instructor approval). A project is something you will learn from, and remember, for many years to come, unlike a smaller HW. Thus, it makes a good educational experience. This project will be developed in guided steps assigned as HWs, to make it happen in a convenient step-by-step way rather than being a big push at the end of the semester. Many people have done papers in past semesters, and many have done other kinds of projects. For papers, types you could consider are (1) a research report on an ethics-related topic (examples: music sharing sites, something in the news, etc.), (2) a short story in which you write a fictional account where ethics plays a significant role, (3) an essay exploring ethics as it relates to your own life, plans, an actual incident you had to deal with, etc., (4) creating an ethical code (and explaining/discussing it) for a hypothetical or real group of people with some common interest, job, or activity, or (5) some other type of paper. Other types of projects are also popular, such as: (I) a home-made video, (II) an original musical performance, (III) a computer program, (IV) a web site, (V) a skit, (VI) a class-length presentation (this is in addition to the short presentation requirement everyone does), (VII) a rap, or (VIII) a practical project such as community service or other socially beneficial activity (excluding political entities or ideologies). People have also done still other types of projects, such as (A) original paintings. Pick whatever type project would be of interest to you. Individual or group projects are both good. The length target for a paper is 2,250 words per person, and other kinds of projects should be of equivalent effort.

Short presentation (100 pts.) Usually this is about your project. Five quality minutes including questions from the audience. I will assign presentation slots toward the end of the semester, but if you want to go earlier in the semester that would be good, and you would then have it over with. (Online students: email to the instructor your PowerPoint, Impress, Prezi, Piktochart, etc., slides, or a link to your video on youtube, or some other product that you could present. If your presentation would be a demo, skit, etc., email a description/plan/script/etc. of what you would do or say. You will not actually present verbally to the class.) Want more information on the “How to give a presentation” question?

“The Communication Skill Center (CSC) is a resource devoted to helping campus and online students in the various stages of preparing a presentation. Services include, but are not limited to, anxiety management, brainstorming, research, content organization, PowerPoint/Prezi design and integration, and providing presenters with balanced feedback. The CSC offers both onsite and online services. Appointments are available and walk-ins are welcome; please feel free to stop by 201 speech building, call us at 501-569-8208, or email: Book an appointment:

General Course Structure:  We will discuss specific case studies chosen by students for each of the (approximately) six or seven ethics units covered. Each student will choose a case study that they find on the web, in the news, from books, from personal experience or that they have heard about, and so on. Cite your sources if they are publicly accessible. The units (as time allows) typically include:

  • (1) Intellectual property (patents, copyrights, piracy, plagiarism, etc.)
  • (2) Ethics in the workplace (Whistle blowing, surveillance, anti-competitive practices, free trade, taxation, fraud, regulation and deregulation, etc.)
  • (3) Ethics in Science & Engineering Research
  • (4) Ethical codes (for your profession, etc., could propose your own code of ethics for some purpose such as boy/girl friend, parent, student, boss, worker, etc.)
  • (5) Societal issues (digital divide, electronic voting, identify theft, social networking, other online crimes such as exploitation, ethics of future technologies – see
  • (6) Robotics
  • (7) Morality, ethics, and the law

Students with Disabilities: Your success in this class is important to me, and it is the policy and practice of the University of Arkansas at Little Rock to create inclusive learning environments consistent with federal and state law. If you have a documented disability (or need to have a disability documented), and need an accommodation, please contact me privately as soon as possible, so that we can discuss with the Disability Resource Center (DRC) how to meet your specific needs and the requirements of the course. The DRC offers resources and coordinates reasonable accommodations for students with disabilities. Reasonable accommodations are established through an interactive process among you, your instructor(s) and the DRC. Thus, if you have a disability, please contact me and/or the DRC, at 501-569-3143 (V/TTY) or 501-683-7629 (VP). For more information, please visit the DRC website at

Textbooks: None are required to purchase for the course, as there are adequate materials on the web and in the library.

For reference and background reading here are some interesting books:

  1. M. J. Quinn, “Ethics for the Information Age,” Addison-Wesley, (fourth ed.).
  2. J. H. Smith, and P. M. Harper. ed., “Engineering Ethics – Concepts, Viewpoints, Cases and Codes,” National Institute for Engineering Ethics, 2004.
  3. C. E. Harris, M. S. Pritchard, and M. J. Rabins, “Engineering Ethics: Concepts and Cases,” Wadsworth Pub., 2004
  4. G. Reynolds,  “Ethics in Information Technology,”  Thomson/Course Technology, 2003, ISBN 0-619-06277-0.
  5. S. Basse, “A Gift of Fire: Social, Legal and Ethical Issues in Computing,” Prentice Hall, 2002.
  6. R. Kane, “Through the Moral Maze: Searching for Absolute Values in a Pluralistic World,” Paragon House Publishers, 1994.

Ethics Case Study References

  9. (employment issues)
  10. (type “ethics” into search box)
  11. (software ethics)
  12., including, codes of ethics (, & resources (
  14. Developing On/Off-line Computer Ethics
  15. Corporate Ethics:
  16. A bunch of case studies:
  17. Ordinary web searches
  18. News sites frequently publish engaging discussions of current events that have ethical dimensions

2 Responses

  1. No questions.

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