Offered only via OSU Extended Campus (ECampus)
Web Presence: http://dusk.geo.orst.edu/ethics
Students may also be interested in PHL 547, Research Ethics (3 credits) or IST 520X, Responsible Conduct of Research (1 credit).
Learning Resources: The required text is Quinn, M. 2010. Ethics for the Information Age (4th Edition), New York: Addison-Wesley, ISBN: 0132133873.
Other readings will be provided throughout the term.
Professionalism in today's geographic information science field (e.g., GIS, remote sensing, cartography, quantitative spatial analysis), now involves a commitment to ethical practice as informed by a more sophisticated understanding of the ethical implications of geographic technologies. For example, the use of GIS for military and surveillance purposes, the lack of privacy introduced by mobile mapping devices, and the use (misuse?) of GIS for conservation and sustainability continue to be challenging issues and topics of deep concern for many. Students and professionals working with GIS and related technologies should develop a sound grasp of these issues and a thorough comprehension of the concerns impacting their use and development in today's world. However, while most people agree that ethics matters for GIS, we often have difficulty putting ethical issues into practice.
This course seeks to bridge this gap by providing a sound basis for future ethical consideration of a variety of issues. Students will first review some general ethical theories and processes of moral reasoning. Concurrently, they will briefly investigate the nature of professions in general and the characteristics of a GIS profession in particular. They will hone moral reasoning skills through methodical analyses of case studies in relation to the GIS Certification Institute Code of Ethics and Rules of Conduct. They will also learn to unveil the "moral ecologies" of a profession through actual interviews with real practitioners in the field. Assignments will include readings, class discussions, practitioner interviews, and preparations of original case studies.
The course is part of an ongoing project supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF), and in collaboration with similar courses now in progress at Penn State University and the University of Minnesota. See http://gisprofessionalethics.org if interested in the NSF project.
This course is required for the online version of the graduate certificate in GIScience, and will also be accepted as an elective in the geographic information science (GIScience) concentration within the geography M.S. and Ph.D. degree programs or as an elective for the on-campus offering of GIScience certificates.
|Discussion Topics Include...|
By the end of this course, students should be able to:
Unit GS6 - Ethical aspects...
|Interviews and Case Studies|
The central activities of the course are an interview with a GIS professional
in your local area and the development of an original GIS ethical case study. The interview involves recruiting a willing and suitable GIS professional in your area, obtaining informed consent, conducting the interview, and preparation of post-interview documentation. Details on how to prepare the post-interview documentation will be provided during the course. The purpose of the interview is to learn about the "moral
ecology" of the organization within which the professional works. The
interview may form the basis for the original case study. Or you may prepare a case study about a hypothetical situation. |
Case studies will follow the structure of existing case study documents presented in class, and the main body of the case should be at least 400-500 words in length. Ultimately, the goal of preparing your own case studies is to increase:
All graduate students taking this course must register for A/F grades. The
term project related to the interview of a GIS professional (preparation of
background documentation, documentation of the interview, interview
evaluation, and interview presentation), will determine 30% of the
course grade. The original case study will be worth 30% and class
participation in online discussion boards will be worth 40%.
Indeed, strong participation in weekly discussion boards will significantly
enhance your learning. Each week you can receive up to 30 points for
participation in the weekly discussion board for that week. At a minimum,
participation involves completing a specific weekly assignment by posting an
original contribution by 11:55 pm on Wednesday AND making substantive responses
to other students' postings by 11:55 pm on Friday. (Please note that all
deadlines in the course are 11:55 pm Pacific time--i.e., local time in
All students will also participate in a "pre-survey" at the beginning of the
course, to assess what they know, believe, and feel about potential ethical
problems confronting GIS&T professionals. A "post-survey" will be administered
at the end of the course, where both student and professor may assess
together how effective the course has been in raising student awareness of
ethical issues and strengthening student moral reasoning abilities.
|Discussion Board Communication Guidelines|
Library services for distance education students are at
You can access most of the library's databases at osulibrary.oregonstate.edu/research.html from outside of the library or off campus.
Map resources are at osulibrary.orst.edu/floormaps/map-room .
To obtain materials not in our collection, Interlibrary Loan forms
and journal articles can be found at osulibrary.orst.edu/ill/.
|Special Note to Distance Ed. Students about INCOMPLETES|
Please take this course only if you plan to finish it in a timely
manner (i.e., during this term)! I assign an "I" or incomplete only
when there is a strong and compelling case for doing so (e.g., health reasons,
military commitment), and will request that the work be made up before the end
of the following quarter. Further, I will not consider assigning an incomplete
unless the individual has completed over 50% of the course tasks. Please note
also that students receiving incompletes are subject to assignment weight
reduction (and consequently may not be eligible for A or A- grades) because
some of their work will be submitted late. If you have completed at least 50%
of the work in the course and still need more than one year to make up the "I"
grade, you must petition within that first year to be granted more time. You
may request a petition form from either the Registrar's Office or Ecampus
(contact the Student Services Specialist). You must then gather the
appropriate signatures. If all required signatures can be obtained on campus,
Ecampus can help you to gather them.
Students are expected to be honest and ethical in their academic work.
Academic dishonesty is defined as an intentional act of deception in one of
the following areas:
|Accommodations for Students with Disabilities|
Students with documented disabilities who may need accommodations, who have any emergency medical information the instructors should know of, or who need special arrangements in the event of evacuation, should make an appointment with either instructor as early as possible, no later than the first week of the term. For further information regarding accomodations for students with disabilities in this class, please see the SSD web site at: ssd.oregonstate.edu.
Last update: February 22, 2022
Course developed and taught by Dr. Dawn Wright © 2008-2011