Hazards of Computing Syllabus

Below is a syllabus outline for an introductory undergraduate class about computers and society. It could be taught under the title "Social and Ethical Issues in Computing," "Computers and Society," "The Politics of Technology," and other course names. Taken together, the materials introduce students to social and ethical issues related to artificial intelligence, algorithms, social media, and more.

The course has two main goals as of writing: (1) help students analyze how technology can exacerbate societal issues, and (2) encourage long-term historical thinking in this analysis.

As a tertiary goal, I wanted to help students understand different types of sources and their impact. So, the syllabus includes academic articles, book excerpts, general audience news articles, documentaries, and more. It also includes different (good-faith) authors from a range of perspectives—from critics who want to burn it all down, to optimists who plan to fix all of it.


Introduction 🏁

Media 📰

Manipulation 🕹

Oppression ⚖️

Labor ⚒️

Warfare 💣 (i.e. Planned Explosions)

Crashes 💥 (i.e. Unplanned Explosions)

Health 💉

Climate 🌍


Other Notes

This class was originally taught as a 10-week writing seminar in which students were required to write a 20-page paper by the end of the course. As such, the priority was breadth rather than depth (increasing the chances that students will find something that piques their interest). Revised versions of this course could focus more closely on one or two topics above.