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Communications of the ACM

From the president

New Ways to Think About CS Education

ACM President Cherri M. Pancake

Recent articles in Communications have touched on our professional responsibilities to society, including the importance of attracting more and diverse people to computing, integrating ethics into the technology development cycle, and mitigating the effect of our conferences on the environment. Two new approaches could have impact on both the quality of CS education and those societal concerns.

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Reinforcing What Students Learn about Ethics

For decades, accreditation agencies have required that CS students be exposed to the ethical responsibilities of a professional, typically through a course dedicated to societal aspects of computing. But as technology has taken over more aspects of daily life, concern has grown about whether CS graduates really learn enough about ethics and accountability. Harvard University has come up with a unique solution, called "Embedded EthiCS." It combines two tactics: interspersing ethical discussions throughout the curriculum, and engaging the help of philosophy faculty to co-teach relevant material. The evolution of the initiative was described in the August 2019 issue (p. 54).


Nandakumar Ramanathan

I worked as a Software Quality Engineer in a premiere Indian organisation under the central government. As part of my work I contributed to the verification and validation activities of the entire gamut of software products developed at my centre including their pre-delivery qualification testing, during my tenure. Professional ethics didn't allow our findings to reach the higher management. As a result the value of my contributions were considered to be routine and under-rated in my career progression, in my judgement.
Dr. R. Nandakumar (r_nand) aka Nandakumar Ramanathan

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