Social Implications of Computer Technology

CS 195, Fall 2021

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: Wednesday 12:10 to 1:30 PM

Lecture will be in-person in the Sibley Auditorium, but we will also have a Zoom simulcast. Participation will be expected for both in-person and Zoom students. We'll make it work. There will not be after-the-fact recordings posted.

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

Please finish the readings before class!

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 Ed.

Please submit the weekly survey by 11:59 pm Tuesday!


You will write two short essays (500-1000 words) of varying format in relation to issues discussed in class. Essays are peer reviewed, which means you will review six essays and have each of your essays reviewed by three of your peers.

Ethics in the News

You will complete an Ethics in the News assignment. Details to be released.


The course is graded P/NP. The reason for that policy is to ensure that you can feel free to express opinions that are 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:

  • Attend at least 12 (out of 14) lectures.
  • Complete at least 10 (out of 13) pre-lecture surveys.
  • Submit 2 essays and receive a passing peer review grade on all of them.
  • Provide peer reviews for 6 essays.
  • Complete the Ethics in the News assignment.

We recognize that quite a few students enrolled late in the class and, therefore, we are making it possible to make up for the missed attendance of the first few lectures. This post on Ed provides more information.

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 presentations, students asking questions, small group discussion, and class-wide debriefing.

Attendance will be taken in class and is required [either virtual or in-person]. You cannot have a time conflict.* The lecture is the vast majority of the experience of the class.

*: If you have a half-hour conflict and you're also planning on doing H195, we might be able to accommodate you.