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Corso "CE601, CRN134 Technology and ethics"

Prof. Martín CARBAJO NÚÑEZ >>
1 semestre (2 ects)
CE601, CRN134 Technology and ethics* (2016/17 )

CE 601, CRN 134 – Information Technology an Ethics

Fall Semester 2016
Prof: Martín Carbajo Núñez, OFM
Fall Semester 2016 – Franciscan School of Theology
Tuesday  6:00 - 9:00 pm
Office: Mission San Luis Rey, Faculty Wing
Office Hours: By Appointment

Course Description

This course deals with ethical issues associated with Information and Communication Technologies (ICT), which are reshaping our lifestyles, our perception of reality and our symbolic understanding of the world. For many people ICT are "the chief means of information and education, of guidance and inspiration" (RM 37). In this course, we will explore how to use them responsibly, in the light of Catholic social teaching (CST), so that they may become a factor of humanization.
- Some goals:
·      understand the relationship that exists between the use of ICT and being true to him/herself as a person
·      To stimulate the moral imagination
·      To develop the ability for critical analysis on the moral values involved in the use of ICT (reflection)
·      To acquire the capacity of publicly sustaining a reasonable position while being open to dialogue and pluralism (argument)
·      To strengthen the sense of moral responsibility (life)

Student Learning Outcomes

- Students will be expected:
·      to become familiar with the main documents issued by the Catholic Church regarding ICT and the basic truths, values and anthropology they propose.
·      to understand how information technology shapes and is shaped by human societies and the challenges it creates for ethics, identity, relationships and religion.
·      to heighten student awareness of the new digital culture and to offer constructive responses to its dilemmas in the light of CST.
·      to participate appropriately and ethically in the new digital environment.
·      to identify key ethical issues of professional conduct in information and communication practices, such as professional journalism or personal blogs/posts.
 Required Texts:
  1. Quinn, Michael J., Ethics for the Information Age, Pearson, Boston 2013 (7th edition 2016) (Quinn).
  2. Lynch, Jonah, The scent of lemons: technology and relationships in the age of Facebook, Darton Longman & Todd, London 2012 (Lynch).
  1. Spadaro, Antonio, Cybertheology. Thinking Christianity in the Era of the Internet, Fordham Univ. Press, New York 2014 (Spadaro).


- Before the class    
·      The week before, a student will be assigned as leader to start the discussion for each document/commentary with a five-minute presentation.
·      Students will be required to read both primary sources and secondary texts, which will be the focus of discussions in the class.
·      Students will come to class having read all the material assigned and having submitted a half a page written reflection on one of the required readings. Those materials indicated as “other possible readings” are recommended, but not required.
- Class Format:
·      Every lesson will have two different sections: the first will focus on one or two ICT document from the Catholic Magisterium; the second will develop a theme in a systematic way.
·      Consistently thoughtful and active participation in class is essential to the success of this course. Attendance is only a precondition for participation, not the measure of it.
·      Students are expected to provide well-reasoned contributions to class discussions and be prepared to raise questions in response to the readings. 
- Final exam:
·      There will be a final written exam, that could be preceded by a mid-term.
- Final paper
·       Each student is expected to submit a paper of at least 12-page, double-spaced paper (12-point font) in length, in which he/she study a ICT issue and critically apply this teaching to a contemporary situation.
·      For the most part, I will keep your papers on file and will not return them.

- Weekly Assignments and written reflection

·      You should not attempt to cover everything, but simply make one or two points that clarify some aspect of the reading and stimulate thought.
·      You can follow these steps outlined by Richard Gula:
o  A) Identify the subject of the reading (just one brief sentence)
o  B) Critical Reflection:
2) How does this article/unit affirm your present understanding of the topic.  In this article I relearned that …
3)  What new insight(s) did you gain from this article/unit?  I was surprised to learn that …
4)  What questions does this article raise for you?  I need to think more about …
o  C) Appropriation:
5) Share an anecdote from your life that illustrates your experience with the insights of this article/unit.    I remember when …
6)  What would it be like to incorporate the insights from this unit to how I think and live?   If I act upon these insights …
- Students who have a disability requiring accommodation should contact the FST Title IX Coordinator (Garrett Galvin) or Assistant (Donna Foley).

Components of the Class (Evaluation procedure)

            Weekly Assignments  & Participation                       30%
            Final exam                                                                 35%    
            Final Paper                                                                 35%

Grading Scale

A         100-95%                                            
A-        94-91%                                                          
B+       90-88%                                              
B         87-80%                                                          

Course Outline & Schedule


September 6  - Introduction

- Course overview: Syllabus, course description and requirements
- The technocratic paradigm
- Read:
·      Encyclical Laudato Si’ n. 101-114[1].
·      Guardini Romano, «Our world: today and tomorrow», in Id,
Guardini. An Anthology of the writings of Romano Guardini, LTP, Chicago 1997, 14-49[2].

September 13:

- 1) Read:
·      PCSC, Ethics in Internet[3]
·      PCSC, The Church and Internet[4]
- 2) Digital Age Challenges: Information and Communication Technologies (ICT)
- Read:
·      Carbajo Núñez, Martin, «Digital Age Challenges and Consecrated Life», in Studia Moralia 53/2 (2015) 269-291[5].
·      Other possible readings:
o  The Internet: Between Theology and Technology (Spadaro 1-19)
o  John Paul II, Internet: A New Forum for Proclaiming the Gospel[6]

September 20:

- 1) Read: Pastoral instruction Communio et progressio
- 2) The information technology: a historical evolution
- Read:
·      Setting the Scene (Lynch 1-18)
·      Other possible readings:
Homo Loquens: Humanity in the Age of Speech (Poe)
o  John Paul II, The Communications Media at the Service of Authentic Peace in the Light of 'Pacem in Terris’[7]

September 27

- 1) Read: Vatican II, Decree Inter Mirifica[8]
- 2) The information technology: From the oral to the typographic culture
- Read:
·      The Technology of the Book… Evolution of the Species (Lynch 19-42)
·      Other possible readings:
o  Orality and Literacy (Mooij 41-62)
o  Talk about Technologies (Gardner 15-34)

October 4 (st Francis) 

October 11

- 1) Read:
·      Francis, Communication at the Service of an Authentic Culture of Encounter[9]
·      Benedict XVI, Social Networks: portals of truth and faith; new spaces for evangelization[10]
- 2) The information technology: Newspapers and electronic media
- Read:
·      Unpacking the Generations: From Biology to Culture to Technology (Gardner 35-59)
·      Other possible readings:
o  Benedict XVI, Silence and Word: Path of Evangelization[11]
o  Ethics after the Information Revolution (Floridi 3-19)
o  Ethical Values and the Digital Frontier: Utilitarianism, Contractarianism, Pluralism, Natural Law (Spinello 1-25)

October 18 (Reading week)

October 25: A human sense to technology

- 1) Read:
·      PCCS, Pastoral instruction “Aetatis Novae” on Social Communications[12]
·      John Paul II, Cinema: Communicator of Culture and of Values[13]
- 2) Life between nature (physis) and artifice (téchne): a difficult balance
  • Read:
·      Introduction to Ethics (Quinn)
·      F. Bacon, The Great Instauration of Human Control in the Universe[14]
·      Other possible readings:
o  The Human Being: decoder and Search Engine for God (Spadaro 19-28)
o  St. Thomas of Aquinas, on Law[15]
o  Simone de Beauvoir, The Ethics of ambiguity[16]
o  John Paul II, Mass media: a friendly companion for those in search of the Father[17]

November 1

- 1) Read:
·      Francis, Communication and Mercy: A fruitful Encounter[18]
·      Francis, Communicating the Family: A Privileged Place of Encounter with the Gift of Love[19]
- 2) Anthropological and theological basis to guide the use of technology
- Read:
·      The Obstinacy of the Physical (Lynch 43-62)
·      Other possible readings:
o  John Paul II, Television and family: guidelines for good viewing[20]

November 8

- 1) Read:
·      PCSC, Pornography and Violence in the Communications Media: a pastoral response[21]
·      Benedict XV: Children and the Media: A Challenge for Education[22]
- 2) Ethical principles
- Read:
·      Education… Technological Fast (Lynch 63-76).
·      Other possible readings:
o  Pornography in Cyberspace and Content Controls (Spinello 65-78)
o  John Paul II, The Media and the Family: A Risk and a Richness[23]

November 15

- 1) Read:
·      John Paul II, Letter to artists[24]
·      Benedict XVI, The Priest and Pastoral Ministry in a Digital World: New Media at the Service of the Word[25].
- 2) Communication techniques used by Christians along history
- Read:
·      Liturgy, Sacraments, and Virtual Presence (Spadaro 71-92)
·      Other possible readings:
o  John Paul II, Preach from the housetops: The Gospel in the Age of Global Communication[26]
o  John Paul II, Proclaiming Christ in the Media at the Dawn of the New Millennium[27].
o  Britton, Karla, Constructing the ineffable: contemporary sacred architecture, Yale Univ. press, New Haven CT 2011.
o  Seasoltz, R. Kevin, A sense of the sacred: theological foundations of Christian architecture and art, Continuum, New York 2008.

November 22

- 1) Read:
·      PCSC, Ethics in advertising[28].
·      John Paul II, The Media: Modern Forum for Promoting the Role of Women in Society[29]
- 2) Advertising techniques
- Read:
·      Apps and Intimate Relationships (Gardner  92-119)
·      Other possible readings:
o  In intimacy, new solitudes (Turkle 151-186; 241-264)

November 29

  • 1) Read:
·      PCCS, Ethics in Communication[30].
·      Benedict XVI, The Media: A Network for Communication, Communion and Cooperation[31]
  • 2) Mass Media theories: How information technology influences human behavior
- Read:
·      Hacker Ethics and Christian vision (Spadaro 51-71)
·      Other possible readings:
o  Digital Identity (Miller 159-182)

December 6

- 1) Read:
·      Benedict XVI, Truth, Proclamation and Authenticity of Life in the Digital Age[32].
·      Benedict XVI, New Technologies, New Relationships. Promoting a Culture of Respect, Dialogue and Friendship[33].
- 2) Privacy
- Read:
·      Information Privacy (Quinn)
·      The Mystical and Connective Body (Spadaro 29-50)
·      Other possible readings:
o  Regulating Internet Privacy (Spinello 153-181)
o  "Everyone is Watching“: Privacy and Surveillance in Digital Life (Miller 111-132)
o  Privacy (Reynolds 131-178)

December 13:

  • 1) Read:
·      John Paul II, The rapid development, Apostolic letter to those responsible for communications[34]
·      Benedict XVI, The Media: At the Crossroads between Self-Promotion and Service. Searching for the Truth in order to Share it with Others[35].
- 2) Codes of ethics of journalism
- Read:
·      Professional Ethics (Quinn)
·      Other possible readings:
o  John Paul II, The Communications Media: At the Service of Understanding Among Peoples[36]
o  Appendix: Codes of Ethics (Winston 444-462)

  “A” Range “B” Range “C” Range
Thesis and
The thesis and purpose of the project are clearly expressed. The thesis and purpose are somewhat clear, with the boundaries and scope a bit vague. The thesis is unclear and the purpose of the project is ill-defined.
Support ·         The development of the thesis is well thought-out, includes all relevant evidence, and respects the inner logic of the material.
·         Use of quoted material does not substitute for student’s own development of the thesis.
·         The paper is convincing, leaving no important aspect of the topic unaddressed.
·         Supporting details are adequate though some important material is missing.
·         Resources are too limited.
·         Paper shows understanding of relevant issues but lacks depth.
·         Uses too many direct quotes to substitute for developing own argument.
·         Some of the key connections between ideas and concepts are missing or stand in isolation from others to which they are logically connected.
·         Supporting material is disorganized and inadequate.
·         Analysis is superficial, shows signs of struggling to understand the relevant issues.
·         Lacks connections between related ideas, concepts, and themes.
·         Uses too many quotations so that own development gets lost, or uses no quotations to make own development the sole authority.
Organization ·         Introduction draws the reader in, and the conclusion leaves the reader with a sense of resolution.
·         Material is presented in an orderly fashion.
·         Paragraphs are well-focused and coherent.
·         Transitions are thoughtful and show how ideas are connected with major sections and subdivisions clearly marked.
·         Major points are clear with the subordinate points clearly distinguished from the key, controlling ones.
·         Introduction does not create a strong sense of anticipation and the conclusion does not tie the paper together into a coherent whole.
·         Ideas generally ordered, though key connections between ideas are missing.
·         Transitions leave connections between ideas fuzzy.
·         Opening paragraph(s) do(es) not give clear direction of project and conclusion does not bring together key themes.
·         There is no clear set-up of the project and the conclusion does not wrap things up.
·         Logical ordering of material is vague with major points undeveloped.
·         Transitions are absent or weak.
·         Introduction does not capture the scope of the project and conclusion lacks focus.
Style ·         Uses English effectively to communicate thesis.
·         Paragraphs are well-focused and coherent.
·         Uses technical terms accurately.
·         Few errors of grammar and punctuation guide the reader through the text.
·         Correctly uses headings and subheads.
·         Use of English is generally effective.
·         Grammatical and punctuation errors distract from the flow of the presentation.
·         Use of technical terms is confusing.
·         Headings and subheads do not effectively present the relation of the material.
·         English is poorly used.
·         Too many grammatical and punctuation errors.
·         The material is not properly subdivided with headings and subheadings.
·         Quotations and summaries break the flow of the piece and do not seem to fit.
·         Errors in grammar distract and interfere with meaning.
Documentation ·         All sources, footnotes and bibliographic form are clearly and consistently cited.
·         Citations are generally good.
·         Citations are too limited for the scope of the project.
·         Lacks appropriate citations.
·         Documentation form is inadequate.


Floridi L. The fourth revolution. How the infosphere is reshaping human reality, Oxford univ. press, Oxford 2014.
Gardner Howard – Davis, Katie, The App generation. How today’s youth navigate identity, intimacy and imagination in a digital world, Yales Univ. press, London 2013.
Lynch, Jonah, The scent of lemons: technology and relationships in the age of Facebook, Darton Longman & Todd, London 2012.
Poe, Marshall T. A History of Communications: Media and Society From the Evolution of Speech to the Internet, Cambridge University Press. Cambridge 2011.
Miller, Vincent, Understanding digital culture, Sage, London 2013 (reprint)
Mooij, Marieke de, Human and Mediated Communication around the World. A Comprehensive Review and analysis, Springer, New York 2014.
Quinn, Michael J., Ethics for the Information Age, 7th Edition, Pearson, Boston 2016.
Reynolds, George W., Ethics in Information Technology, 5th Edition, Cengage Learning, Boston, MA 2015.
Spadaro, Antonio, Cybertheology: thinking Christianity in the era of the Internet, Fordham Univ. Press, New York 2014.
Spinello, Richard A., CyberEthics: Morality and Law in Cyberspace, 6th edition, Jones & Barlett Learning, Burlington, MA 2017.
Turkle, Sherry,  Alone together: why we expect more from technology and less from each other, Perseus, Cambridg, Mass 2013.
Winston, Morton E. - Edelbach Ralph, Society, Ethics, & Technology – 5th Edition, Cengage Learning, Boston MA 2014.

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