IT 450

Social and Professional Issues (3 credits)

Text:  Ethics for the Information Age, 7th edition by M. J. Quinn, Pearson, 2017

Course Information: This course will provide an overview of the history of computing and presents key concepts related to the social and professional aspects of IT. Topics to be covered include: pervasive themes in IT, social context of computing, intellectual property, legal issues in computing, professional and ethical issues and responsibilities, privacy and civil liberties.

Prerequisite: Completion of nine credits of IT 300-level coursework or consent of the instructor

Required/Elective: Required

Course Outcomes:

Students should be capable of:

  1. Interpreting the social context of a particular information technology implementation and evaluating a particular implementation through the use of empirical data
  2. Identifying underlying gender, cultural, and diversity related issues in information technology and discussing how information technology changes and affects culture as a whole
  3. Discussing how the internet has changed the face of computing and how it has affected society
  4. Distinguishing among copyrights, patents, trademarks and trade secrets and discussing the ramifications of non-disclosure agreements (NDAs)
  5. Discussing the consequences of software piracy on information technology and the role of relevant enforcement organizations and discussing how intellectual property laws vary internationally
  6. Understanding the role and impact of IT professional societies, such as the ACM, ACM ITe, and IEEE-CS

Student Outcomes: 

E. An understanding of professional, ethical, legal, security and social issues and responsibilities

F.  An ability to communicate effectively with a range of audiences

G. An ability to analyze the local and global impact of computing on individuals, organizations, and society

H. Recognition of the need for and an ability to engage in continuing professional development

Course Topics:


  1. Social informatics
  2. History of computing
  3. Social impact of IT on society
  4. Online communities and social implications
  5. Diversity and gender-based and cultural issues
  6. Accessibility and globalization issues
  7. Economic issues in computing and the digital divide
  8. Internet/computing restrictions in certain countries
  9. Foundations of intellectual property and ownership of information
  10. Software piracy and fair use
  11. Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA)
  12. Copyrights, patents, trademarks, and trade secrets and international differences
  13. Compliance (ADA 508, HIPAA, Sarbane-Oxley, etc)
  14. Computer crime
  15. Accountability, responsibility, liability
  16. Professional organizations and professionalism in an IT environment
  17. Relationships with professional societies
  18. Code of ethics (IEEE, ACM, BCS, ATIP, etc)
  19. Ethical hacking
  20. Whistle-blowing and workplace issues
  21. Significant trends in IT profession

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