Global and Local Agenda of Computing Ethics Education

Hughes, Janet; Plaut, Ethan; Wang, Feng; von Briesen, Elizabeth; Brown, Cheryl; Cross, Gerry; Kumar, Viraj and Myers, Paul (2020). Global and Local Agenda of Computing Ethics Education. In: ITiCSE '20: Proceedings of the 2020 ACM Conference on Innovation and Technology in Computer Science Education, 15-19 Jun 2020, Online (originally Trondheim, Norway), pp. 239–245.


Whilst today's computing educators are very successful at preparing students in the technologies of computing, they are also entrusted with the responsibility of preparing them to face the complex issues surrounding ethics. These issues are perpetually changing, unpredictable, and challenging. Twenty-first century computing students graduate into a world in which many of the greatest ethical issues roiling society are centered on their field. A recent surge of scholarly interest has produced some rich overviews of computing ethics pedagogy. This paper seeks to go beyond the Western perspectives typically centered in that work to consider how these problems may be understood in quite different ways through the value systems of diverse professional groups, political systems, and cultures. The breadth of computing ethics as a subject makes a universal overview of its education here unrealistic. Instead, a selective review of relevant international literatures is presented to illustrate a range of influences on the teaching of computing ethics. Different cultural conceptualizations of ethics and contrasting curricula from a set of global regions are outlined. Other influences include (i) differing levels of professional association from global down to national; and (ii) subfields and topics of computing (including diversity and social responsibility). This position paper considers these perspectives on computing ethics education relative to each other without attempting to reconcile any differences, and emphasizes the importance of adopting culturally relevant dimensions if students are to take ownership of the ethics of their future work.

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