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Technology and Ethics

The meteoric rise of technologies used in our everyday life for profit, power, or improvement of an individual's life can, on occasion, cause cultural stress as well as ethical challenges. In this course, we will explore how these multifaceted impacts might be understood, controlled and mitigated.


Course at a Glance

About the Course

When everyone begins pursuing their rights to life, liberty and pursuit of happiness we are bound to step on each other’s toes.  This begs the need for regulations.  And this leads to the question as to “what is moral behavior”; and what are the ethics that emanate from the selected definitions of moral behavior. There is no dearth of defined moral behavior created by religions and their leaders, business persons, politicians, philosophers, and in some cases “the everyday person on the street”.

Example technologies at play today include nuclear energy; biological manipulations for warfare; robots for taking care of the elderly, and enhancing human capability; the use of technology for surveillance; the cultural changing power of the media which can create unlimited arrays of images real and virtual to support a point of view; and the internet with its world wide connectivity.

We need to look into social/technology assessment, the transfer of the technology as it is placed into practice, and the techniques/processes that are available for control within the legal, political, institutional and attitudinal environment within which the technology is placed as a way of protecting our rights to life, liberty and pursuit of happiness. 

All lectures and instructional materials developed for this course by the Ohio State University are licensed under the Creative Commons AttributionNonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. To view a copy of this license, visit

Course Syllabus

Week One: Introduction to Technology, Ethics, and Culture
Week Two: Expressing Your Ethic
Week Three: Technology Impact Assessment
Week Four: Social Impact Assessment
Week Five: Technology Diffusion and Transfer
Week Six: Controlling Technology Diffusion and Transfer
Week Seven: Course Reflection

Recommended Background

No background is required, all are welcome.

Successful students will approach this course with an open mind, a respect for all cultures, and an interest in how technology impacts and challenges our lives.

Course Format

The class will consist of brief lecture videos.  There will 2 small peer review writing projects along with 4 quizzes throughout the course.


Will I get a statement of accomplishment after completing this class?

Yes. Students who successfully complete the class will receive a statement signed by the instructor.

Other than an Internet connection, what resources will I need for this class? 
You will only need to obtain required reading materials (note: these will be provided online as well). 

What is the coolest thing I'll learn if I take this class?
You will learn how to understand possible impacts of technology and ways to control them in your society and around the world.

Course logo credits: CmdrCord (CC). Stuck In Customs ( CC ).