Approved by University Studies Sub-committee.  A2C2 action pending.

University Studies Course Approval


Department or Program: Computer Science
Course Number: CS 210
Course Title: Computers in Society
Semester Hours: 3
Frequency of Offering: every semester; 2 sections of 30 students
Catalog Description: An introductory, non-technical survey of computer systems, and a study of the social impact of computers.  Course does not count for a major or minor elective credit. 
Existing course approved by A2C2: Yes
Department Contact: Tim Gegg-Harrison
Email Address:
University Studies Requirement: Unity and Diversity: 
     Science and Social Policy


 General Course Outcomes:

The use of computer technology by students is a significant aspect of their lives -- not only at school, but at home, at work, and at play.  In addition, this use will only continue to increase in their lifetime.  This course deals with helping students understand the basics of computer technology and its social implications, so that they can use it more effectively.

To understand the societal  implications of computer technology, it is necessary to expose students to some of the basic scientific foundations of computer technology.  This includes addressing such questions as: What happens when you hit a "submit" button on a Web form?  What is going on when you "download" a file?  How does a Web-search happen?  From this technical perspective and understanding, the students then study the ethical, social, historical, and political implications of the technology.

Specific Course Outcomes:

a.  understand the scientific foundation of the topic

Students will learn how the internet was designed, how it works, and how to use it effectively.   Students will also learn how to use applications, specifically how to build a web page.  These activities, in the context of studying why things work the way they do, will give them the background to use, as well as understand the advantages and disadvantages of, technology.

b.  understand the social, ethical, historical, and/or political implications

Students will examine the tremendous growth in the internet since the 1970’s and the impact this growth has had on people, law, and ethics.  Political and legal implications become clear when we see how technology has outpaced the legal and political arenas.  Students will learn current laws pertaining to copyright, privacy, and accessibility.

c.  understand and articulate the need to integrate issues of science with social policy

Students will learn about historical and current cases of the abuse of technology.  Students will take what they have learned about issues and policies to write a  policy.  For example, students might be asked to write a privacy policy for an organization maintaining an electronic database, or an accessibility policy for a company's web site.

d.  evaluate the various policy options relevant to the social dilemmas posed by the science

Students will debate several social dilemmas presented in class.  These include such things as privacy, digital copyright issues, data mining, and material appropriate/inappropriate for the web.

e.  articulate, choose among, and defend various policy and/or scientific options to cope with the challenges created

To allow the students the opportunity to discuss and defend policies and scientific options, several mock trials will be scheduled.  These trials will allow for points of view to be presented and decided on in class.

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Sample Course Syllabus 
Fall Semester - 2001



CS 210 – Computers in Society


Internet Literacy; Annual Editions: Computers in Society


English 111


3 S.H.

Course Description:

This course is an introductory, non-technical survey of computer systems and a study of the social impact of computers.


Prof. X

Office hours:




e-mail address:

Office phone: 


 Topics we will attempt to cover include, but are not limited to, the following:

A. The Internet 
  1. Understanding the Internet 
  2. Getting on the Internet 
  3. Communication via the Internet 
  4. Finding Information 
  5. Creating Web Pages 
  6. Multi-Media on the Internet 
B. Societal Issues 
  1. Introduction to Computing Issues 
  2. The Economy 
  3. Work and the Workplace 
  4. Computers, People and Social Interaction 
  5. Social Institutions 
  6. Social Values, Law, Ethics and Privacy



  1. 4 one period exams (100 points each)
  2. Homework  (100 points total).
  3. Project (100 points total)
  4. Each student's points will be totaled and course grades will be based on a curve defined by these totals.
  5. Grading Scale: 90-100 A; 80-89 B; 70-79 C; 60-69 D; 0-59 F



  1. You are responsible for all material covered in class.
  2. Assignments are due at the beginning of the class period on the due day.
  3. Late assignments or exceptions to a grading policy will not be considered except in cases of extreme emergency or when you have had prior approval from me.


Academic Dishonesty Policy:

Cheating is unacceptable and it will not be tolerated in CS210 or any other class that I teach.  Anyone who is caught cheating in this class will receive a grade of F for the class.  Note also that if you are caught cheating then you will not be permitted to withdraw from the class (i.e., the F will go on your permanent transcript).


University Studies Course:

This course qualifies as a University Studies Course satisfying the outcomes of the Science and Social Policy category of the University and Diversity category. These courses must include requirements and learning activities that promote the students abilities to:
a)  understand the scientific foundation of the topic

b)  understand the social, ethical, historical, and/or political implications

c)  understand and articulate the need to integrate issues of science with social policy

d)  evaluate the various policy options relevant to the social dilemmas posed by the science

e)  articulate, choose among, and defend various policy and/or scientific options to cope with the challenges created

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Sample Course Plan 
Fall Semester - 2001

History & Impact


Book: Chapter 1 Definitions 
Chapter 2 How the Internet is Changing the World
Web: Bruce Sterling's Short History of The Internet 
Statistics on Internet Usage and Growth
Articles: From Movable Type to Data Deluge 
The Internet and Sexual Personae 
The Internet Produces a Global Village of Village Idiots
Activities: Class Discussion
Outcomes: a, b


Using the Internet


Book: Chapter 3 Getting Connected 
Chapter 4 Surfing the Net
Web: Various (Search engines, Decision Guides, Government sites, Educational sites)
Articles: Social Impact of the Internet 
Computers Open Doors for the Disabled 
Better Equipped but Shortchanged 
Self-help Online 
Surfing and Praying: God on the Internet
Activities: Setting up bookmarks, introduce the class homepage
Outcomes: a, b




Book: Chapter 5 Netiquette 
Chapter 6 E-mail 
Chapter 7 List Serve 
Chapter 8 Newsgroups 
Chapter 9 Chat, Muds 
Chapter 10 Telnet
Web: Netiquette Guide 
Dictionary of Emoticons
Articles: A Case of Online Rape
Activities: Set up List Server for the Class to use, Class Discussion, Debate
Outcomes: a, d


Searching for Information


Book: Chapter 11 Searches 
Chapter 12 Type of Files 
Chapter 13 Downloading Files 
Chapter 14 Citing Web Sources
Web: Various
Articles: Big Browser is Watching You
Activities: Discussion and demonstration of “cookies”
Outcomes: a, b


Web page Development


Book: Chapter 15 Strategies 
Chapter 16 Design 
Chapter 17 HTML 
Chapter 18 Resume 
Chapter 19 Images 
Chapter 20 Using Tables 
Chapter 21 Home Page 
Chapter 22 Publishing
Web: Web accessibility guidelines (W3C)
Web accessiblity-evaluation tools
Articles: None
Activities: Develop their Web pages for the class and for the beginning of the project
Outcomes: a




Book: Chapter 23 How Browsers do Multimedia 
Chapter 24 Waveform audio recording
Web: Napster ...
Articles: Multimedia on the Web: Legal Issues
Activities: Debate
Outcomes: c, d


Legality and Ethics


Book: Chapter 25 Societal Issues 
Chapter 26 Emerging Technology 
Chapter 27 How to Keep Up
Web: Federal and State Regulations (Section 508)
Center for Democracy and Technology 
Electronic Information Privacy Center 
Happy Hacker.Org
Articles: Ethics Online 
How Hackers Break in and How They Are Caught 
Tide of Prints 
Consumer Privacy Concerns about Marketing 
God's Eyes for Sale 
Evaluating the World Wide Web 
The Virtual Surgeon 
Health and Medicine Online 
Virus Hunting on the Web
Activities: Debate, Presentations, Movie
Outcomes: c, d, e