Ethics Lab announces new data ethics course

KIE Director and Senior Research Scholar Maggie Little, together with KIE Postdoctoral Fellow Elizabeth Edenberg, will offer a new Ethics Lab opportunity this spring that builds on the design-based pedagogy employed in previous flagship courses: the inaugural Georgetown University data ethics course (PHIL 108-101).

This course will combine traditional lecture, discussion, and assignments with project-based learning. In partnership with Judd Nicholson, Georgetown University’s Chief Information Officer, students will work in teams to produce real world projects that include prototyping a new policy for the use of student data at Georgetown.

From the course description:

We willingly share data about ourselves all the time—from apps we use for purchases to Ubers we take. Consider the amount of data you share intentionally in the course of one day. What happens to all that data? We are coming to understand that it paints a picture of individuals, communities and our world that is permanent, accessible, and can be shared, sold, manipulated, and combined for purposes far beyond the intentions behind our original “disclosures.” Do we care; should we?

We also unwillingly share data every day. What happens to the record of that Uber ride you took? Who is aware of your google search history? Your purchases? Your income from your part time job? Your recent arrest on a minor charge? What should governments, parents, employers, be able to learn about you? Does Georgetown read your emails? Should they?

In this course, we will explore the rapidly changing landscape of Data Ethics.

This course is one of the major yields of last year’s initiative to develop a new suite of programming on the ethics of big data, and the Institute’s answer to what an academic year’s worth of activity (both curricular and co-curricular) in this area would look like.

The course is also timely in the context of Georgetown University’s campus-wide focus on big data, gathering a diverse group of experts to collaborate on iterative consultation on how best to collect, archive, and utilize big data. The data ethics class joins major efforts in this area such as the creation of the Massive Data Institute within the University’s McCourt School of Public Policy, the Beeck Center’s recent dedicated programming on the topic of Data for Social Good, and a collection of seed grants and fellowship opportunities in data science.

View living syllabus »