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Markkula Center for Applied Ethics

Data Ethics Teaching Resource

Fiber Optic Cable (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

Fiber Optic Cable (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

A module on ethics for data science courses

Data science professors can infuse ethics into their curricula with "An Introduction to Data Ethics," a teaching resource designed by SCU Philosophy Professor Shannon Vallor.  The author of Technology and the Virtues (Oxford University Press, 2017), Vallor explains the thinking behind including a discussion of ethics in such courses: "Ethical issues are everywhere in the world of data, because data’s collection, analysis, transmission, and use can and often does profoundly impact the ability of individuals and groups to live well."

She adds,

The combination of increasingly powerful but also potentially misleading or misused data analytics, a data-saturated and poorly regulated commercial environment, and the absence of widespread, well-designed standards for data practice in industry, university, non-profit, and government sectors has created a ‘perfect storm’ of ethical risks. Managing those risks wisely requires understanding the vast potential for data to generate ethical benefits as well.

Neither teachers nor students need a background in ethics to make use of "An Introduction to Data Ethics."  The module includes a reading, homework assignments, case studies, and a list of best practices--all designed to spark a conversation about ethical issues that students will face in their role as data practitioners.

Feb 1, 2018


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