GEOG 581
Spatial Data Science Ethics

Welcome to GEOG 581 - Spatial Data Science Ethics


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This website provides the primary instructional materials for the course. The Resources menu links to important supporting materials, while the Lessons menu links to the course lessons. Canvas, Penn State's course management system, is used to support the delivery of this course as well, as it provides the primary communications, calendaring, and submission tools for the course.

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Students who register for this Penn State course gain access to assignments and instructor feedback, and earn academic credit. Information about Penn State's Online Geospatial Education programs is available at the Geospatial Education Program Office.

Quick Facts about GEOG 581

  • Instructor: David DiBiase
  • Course Structure: Online, 10-12 hours a week for 10 weeks
  • Overview: Prepares current and aspiring professionals to recognize, analyze and address legal and ethical issues in the GIS&T (geospatial) field. GEOG 581 is for students who are concerned about the ethical implications and social impacts of geospatial technologies and methods. It traces the roots of Spatial Data Science Ethics in moral philosophy, professional ethics frameworks, and critical studies in the geospatial field. Students analyze non-trivial ethical case studies in which right and wrong actions are not clear-cut. They compare and critique relevant legal and policy issues in the U.S. and abroad. They evaluate the organizational ethics of firms and agencies (including current or potential employers) that provide spatial data science products and services, and they create and refine a proposed “ethics of digital care” for leading balanced digital lives. Finally, they develop a research Term Project to conceptualize and interrogate ethical issues related to their own research work. Course activities include readings, case study analyses, bi-weekly presentations, class discussions, and scholarly Term Project written reports.

NOTE: This course is offered as part of the Open Educational Resources initiative of Penn State's John A. Dutton e-Education Institute. You are welcome to use and reuse materials that appear in this site (other than those copyrighted by others) subject to the licensing agreement linked to the bottom of this and every page.