School of Information and Library Science
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

INLS 584, Information Ethics
Fall 2013


Course description / Textbook and readings / Assignments and evaluation

Syllabus / Schedule / Assignments / Sakai site


Instructor: Barbara Wildemuth




Office: 109 Manning Hall

Phone: 962-8072 (office); 968-3018 (home)


Class meetings: Tuesday & Thursday, 9:30-10:45; 517 Hamilton Hall

Course Description

Overview. The intention of this course is to introduce students to the variety of ethical issues they will need to address as information professionals. After a brief overview of moral theories and their application to ethical issues, as well as ethical codes of conduct for the information professions, the class will focus on particular issues that are most salient to information professionals, such as information/data as intellectual property, software as intellectual property, data integrity/accuracy, software accuracy, privacy, access to information/censorship, access to information technology, effects of computerization on the work environment (job displacement, deskilling, ergonomic issues, electronic monitoring), effects of computer-mediated communication on understandings of identity and relationships, and effects of computerization on democracy and government.

Rationale and relationship to the current curriculum. Many of the courses in the SILS curriculum briefly address ethical issues, such as censorship, intellectual property rights, the effects of systems design, and others. By focusing entirely on ethics, this course will enable the participants to develop their skills in reasoning about such issues.

Textbook and Readings

Rachels, J. (2012). The Elements of Moral Philosophy. 7th edition. Boston: McGraw-Hill Higher Education.

The text is available at UNC Student Stores. The 7th edition is not very different than the 6th edition, so either edition is acceptable for use in this class.

Additional readings will be available as noted in the class schedule. These readings will be selected by the instructor and class participants.

Assignments and Evaluation

The final grade will be based on one major paper, two small assignments, and class participation (including leadership of one class session):

Honor Code. The Honor Code, which prohibits giving or receiving unauthorized aid in the completion of assignments, is in effect in this class. Please contact the instructor if you have any questions about the application of the Honor Code to your work in this class.

Library and Lab Resources. You will be using SILS library and lab resources during the course of the semester. Please remember that many of your fellow students also need to use the same equipment and materials. Follow the proper checkout procedures and return materials promptly to be a good SILS citizen.

Creative Commons LicenseThe INLS 584 website, UNC-CH, 2013, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License. Address all comments and questions to Barbara M. Wildemuth at
This page was last modified on August 1, 2013, by Barbara M. Wildemuth.