Professional Ethics and Communication in Computer Science
Spring 2014

Instructor: Christopher Wilt
Office: Kingsbury W236
E-mail: wilt@cs.unh.edu
Office Hours: Tues, Thurs 1:00-2:00 or by appointment (send e-mail to request an appointment)

Class: Mondays and Wednesdays, 3:10-5:00pm, Kingsbury N121

Description from the Registrar

A seminar course intended to improve both reasoning and ability to communicate effectively in front of an audience. Students learn basic forms of ethical argument, they read about ethical situations in which technology and technology professions play a key role, and they participate in student-led discussions about the reading. Students also make oral presentations about both ethical and technical topics, and evaluate each others' presentations in order to improve their sense for what makes a good presentation.

Class Goals

The primary objective of this class is to teach you the basics of communications as it applies to computer science.



Assessments in this class will consist of three primary components.

  1. Oral Presentations

    During the semester, each student will do three presentations. The first presentation is to be a 3 minute "elevator summary" of the second presentation. The second presentation is a 15 minute technical talk on a subject selected by the student, which must be approved by the instructor. The third presentation is a second 15 minute talk on a different subject, which must address an ethical issue. The topic is also selected by the student, once again subject to approval by the instructor. Both longer talks also have checkpoints associated with them. Meeting the checkpoints requires having parts of the talk prepared in time for the checkpoint.

  2. Written Responses
  3. I will be assigning readings on different ethics topics. Along with each reading, I will also assign a written response, which will address the topic of the reading. The responses are due prior to class, when we will discuss the topics covered in the reading. For each response, I will give you a prompt which your response should address.

  4. Class Participation
  5. The primary purpose of this class is to help you improve your communication skills, and one of the most effective ways to improve your communication skills is to practice, which we will be doing in class. The majority of classes will consist of either discussions or presentations.


The class's piazza account will be used for disseminating information, files, and answering questions. If you have not used piazza, it is an online forum where students can ask questions, answer questions, discuss material from class, and view previously asked questions.


The textbook for the class is the fifth edition of Ethics for the Information Age by Michael Quinn. I will be assigning readings from the book which will form the basis for both small written assignments and class discussions.


The University is committed to providing students with documented disabilities equal access to all university programs and facilities. If you think you have a disability requiring accommodations, you must register with Disability Services for Students (DSS). Contact DSS at (603) 862-2607 or visit them in MUB 118. If you have received Accommodation Letters for this course from DSS, please provide me with that information privately so that we can review those accommodations.

Comments and questions should be directed to wilt@cs.unh.edu