CS91: Socially Responsible Computing

Announcements | Introduction | Schedule| Course Material | Project | Grading | Links



Everybody knows how we can use computers to make money or waste time. But how can we use computers to do good in the world?

In this course, we will explore how computers can be used to ease suffering, reduce poverty, empower women, improve the environment, or just make life a little bit better for everyone. Topics include the technologies for the developing world, the open source software movement, access technologies for people with disabilities, computer literacy and the digital divide, reusing and recycling computers, and green computing.

Class information

Professor: Douglas Turnbull
Office: Science Center 255
Phone: (610) 597-6071
Office hours: TBA or by appointment

Room: Science Center Conference Room
Time: Wednesdays 1:15pm–4pm
Wiki: CS91 Wiki
Text: None, but lots of suggested references and weekly readings...


Course Material & Presentations

Each week, we will be discussing a topic that involves computing and some social topic. It is important that you read, watch or examine the documents listed before class so that we can have a meaningful and constructive discussion. A document may be a paper, a website, or a video.

I realize that as the semester progresses, there will be times that you will not be able to review each document. To this end, I have denoted each document with a Must Read, Read, and Skim designation. If you know that will be unable to read every paper, please focus on the Must Read papers first.

For every Must Read document and most of the Read document, you should prepare a 1-page summary in your class journal. The format for the summary will depend to the nature of the document, but in general you should provide: You are also encouraged to find and consume additional material (e.g., following paper references, web searching using Google Scholar, emailing the authors. Bring this information to class to share with your colleagues. (If you miss some of the document summaries for the assigned material, you can make up for it by doing summaries of additional material.) You will also be required to do two presentations in during the semester.

Community-based Learning Project

We will be working with the Chester Housing Authority (CHA) on their Neighborhood Networks project to improve computer literacy and computer access for low-income residence in Chester, PA.

The first step will be to learn about the social, economic, and cultural context of Chester and the residents of the housing authority. Group of students will then design, develop and deploy a project that meets the goals of the Neighborhood Networks initiative. The development cycle with involve a close collaborative relationship with both the administrators and residence of the Chester Housing Authority. We will be following the EPICS Design Process: Problem Identification, Specification Development, Conceptual Design, Detail Design, Production, Service & Maintenance, Redesign or Retirement. The EPICS process stresses the importance of understanding the context of the problem, close collaboration with a community partner, and rigorous documentation for organization and sustainability.

Each student will required to maintain a journal to document their individual work: observations, thoughts, ideas, reviews of relate research material, meeting notes, contact information, informal and formal experiment (include hypothesis, setup, data, results, conclusions), and other information that is relevant to the project. Please see the EPICS Documentation Slides for details on formatting journal entries. The journals will be collect for grading three times during the semester (Week 4, 9, and 13).

In addition to the individual journals, each group of student will be required to submit various documents based on the EPICS Design Process. Please refer to the schedule above for the due dates of these project reports.


This course is structured like a seminar course where each student will be graded based on his or her contribution to both the seminar and the community project.
Seminar 50%
Reading Summaries Week 4 5%
Reading Summaries Week 9 5%
Reading Summaries Week 13 5%
Paper Presentation Week 6 10%
Topic Presentation Weeks 9-11 15%
In-class Contribution 10%
Project 50%
Journal Week 4 3%
Journal Week 9 3%
Journal Week 13 4%
Project Charter 4%
Specification Report 8%
Final Presentation 8%
Final Delivery Report & User Manual 16%
Peer Reviews 4%
Links that are related to the course may be posted here. If you have suggestions for links, let me know.


Research Centers

Professional Organizations and Conferences

Inspirational Material