Computer Science MissionThe computer science discipline strives to support the mission of St. Norbert College. To this end, the discipline is committed to providing a curriculum that is intellectually challenging, preparing graduates to understand both the fundamental concepts in computing as well as the computing profession within the context of a larger society.
The discipline recognizes the need to develop an awareness of the cultural, social, legal and ethical issues inherent in the discipline of computer science. The major program personally and morally challenges students to share values found in computing professions. The special focus given to continual learning, as part of a liberal arts education and the computer science curriculum, provides a strong foundation for lifelong learning and development necessary to stay current in computer science.
The discipline understands and follows the Software Engineering Code of Ethics and Professional Practice developed by the ACM/IEEE-CS Joint Task Force on Software Engineering Ethics and Professional Practices within the spiritual environment of the core values central to the mission of the college. Here is an informal summary (Quinn, Ethics for the Information Age, Addison-Wesley) of its principles:
- Be impartial.
- Disclose information that others ought to know.
- Respect the rights of others.
- Treat others justly.
- Take responsibility for your actions and inactions.
- Take responsibility for the actions of those you supervise.
- Maintain integrity.
- Continually improve your abilities.
- Share knowledge, expertise and values.
The computer science discipline recognizes the importance of reflecting the mission and heritage of St. Norbert College in our courses and in the process of software and computer-system development. Students have the responsibility to do their best in all course work and projects. Students have a responsibility to design correct software solutions that consider the needs of diverse groups of users. Project team members have a responsibility to respect the unique talents of individual members while working toward common goals. Both computer science faculty and students have the responsibility not only to adapt to changes in technology but also to serve as gentle change agents to assist others in the appropriate use of technology.
Computer science faculty and students have a responsibility to be impartial, to maintain our integrity and to account for our actions and inactions. Because of our roles in developing software systems, we have significant opportunities to do good, to cause harm or to influence others to do good or cause harm. We have access to private information, such as health and financial information, as well as information on national security. We have the ability to share information instantaneously worldwide. We have the ability to develop software systems that make decisions without human intervention. We continually instruct our students on the need to act with honesty and integrity, to respect the rights of others, and to promote justice and the common good, by posing difficult but current questions such as:
- Would my decision hold up to public scrutiny?
- How would those least empowered be affected?
- What are the ramifications if the system fails to make the correct decision?
- What are the moral responsibilities of those posting material online?