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Ethics and Students in the Information Professions: A Survey of Beliefs and Issues in Information Ethics Coursework

Ethics and Students in the Information Professions: A Survey of Beliefs and Issues in Information Ethics Coursework
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Author(s): Elizabeth Buchanan (University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, USA)
Copyright: 2003
Pages: 2
Source title: Information Technology & Organizations: Trends, Issues, Challenges & Solutions
Source Editor(s): Mehdi Khosrow-Pour, D.B.A. (Information Resources Management Association, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-59140-066-0.ch294
ISBN13: 9781616921248
EISBN13: 9781466665330


The ideas of computer or information ethics are not novel; the formal use of the term “computer ethics” dates to 1976 with Walter Maner, while somewhat more recently in the late 1980s, Robert Hauptman in the US and Ralphael Cappura in Germany began using the term “information ethics.” What these terms mean in both theory and practice varies across information-related professions and disciplines, as well as professional organizations. One commonality, however, is emerging, and this is the fact that many computer and information professional organizations want or require students to have some training and education in ethics as part of their curricula prior to assuming job responsibilities in the “real world.” The university classroom is the ideal place to build an understanding of ethical theories, to introduce a growing array of topics surrounding computer/information ethics, and to conduct case studies and role playing around ethical dilemmas. Such professional organizations as the ACM have recommended that all computer science students receive required coursework in ethics totaling 16 hours, with 10 Social/Professional/Ethical units. Others, such as the ALA, has a code of ethics but does not require students in library and information science programs to take ethics courses. While codes of ethics exist across professional organizations, they are often not adequate tools to assist professionals when they are facing ethical dilemmas in the workplace. Thus, many computer/ information studies programs have elective courses in ethics. The remainder of this paper will discuss student perspectives on information ethics, and it will conclude with brief recommendations for developing an information ethics course.

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