Social Implications of Computer Technology

CS 195, Fall 2019

Course Description and Policies

CS 195 is a discussion-intensive course about the social implications of computer technology. The purpose of this course is to help students make informed and thoughtful choices about their careers, participation in society, and future development activities. Readings and lecture topics are drawn from a range of fields that together seek to describe our contemporary global society: sociology, philosophy, economics, public policy, etc.

Weekly Schedule

Lecture: Tuesday 11:00 to 12:30 PM in 105 Stanley

Discussion sections: TBD

Readings for each week will be released on the Wednesday before class (or thereabouts). Please finish the readings before class!

Discussion sections will cover topics to be discussed in the previous lecture. You are only required to attend one discussion section (total, not per week).

Lecture topics will not be determined only by the wisdom of your instructor. Instead, you will collectively choose your own adventure through the material. To guide discussion topics, a weekly survey will be announced on Piazza. Finish the weekly survey by 9 AM Tuesday!


You will write three short essays (500-1000 words) of varying format in relation to issues discussed in class. Essays will be announced on the website, in class, and on Piazza.

Essays are peer reviewed, which means you will review nine essays and have each of your essays reviewed by three of your peers. You will also have the option of posting your essays publicly.


The course is graded P/NP. The reason for that policy is to ensure that you can feel free to express opinions different from those of the instructors, both in class meetings and in written work.

In order to receive a passing grade in CS 195, you must complete the objectives listed below:

  • Attend at least 12 lectures
  • Complete at least 11 pre-lecture surveys.
  • Submit 3 essays and receive a passing peer review grade on all of them.
  • Provide peer reviews for 9 essays.
  • Attend 1 small-group discussion.

In the event that you do not earn the required number of points, we will provide an opportunity to make up extra work, though you should not count on this.

Lecture and Attendance

Lecture is going to be a mix of discussion, video clips, students asking questions, small group discussion, and class-wide debriefing. Attendance will be taken in class as well as in small-group discussion.