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Software Engineering Ethics Education: Incorporating Critical Pedagogy into Student Outreach Projects

Software Engineering Ethics Education: Incorporating Critical Pedagogy into Student Outreach Projects
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Author(s): Gada Kadoda (University of Khartoum, Sudan)
Copyright: 2015
Pages: 23
Source title: Contemporary Ethical Issues in Engineering
Source Author(s)/Editor(s): Satya Sundar Sethy (Indian Institute of Technology Madras, India)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-8130-9.ch016

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Abstract

The difficulties inherent in the nature of software as an intangible object pose problems for specifying its needs, predicting overall behavior or impact on users, and therefore on defining the ethical questions that are involved in software development. Whereas software engineering drew from older engineering disciplines for process and practice development, culminating in the IEEE/ACM Professional Code in 1999, the topic of Software Engineering Ethics is entwined with Computer Science, and developments in Computer and Information Ethics. Contemporary issues in engineering ethics such as globalization have raised questions for software engineers about computer crime, civil liberties, open access, digital divide, etc. Similarly, computer-related ethics is becoming increasingly important for engineering ethics because of the dominance of computers in modern engineering practice. This is not to say that software engineers should consider everything, but the diversity of ethical issues presents a challenge to the approach of accumulating resources that many ethicists maintain can be overcome by developing critical thinking skills as part of technical training courses. This chapter explores critical pedagogies in the context of student outreach activities such as service learning projects and considers their potential in broadening software engineering ethics education. The practical emphasis in critical pedagogy can allow students to link specific software design decisions and ethical positions, which can perhaps transform both student and teacher into persons more curious about their individual contribution to the public good and more conscious of their agency to change the conditions around them. After all, they share with everyone else a basic human desire to survive and flourish.

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