The Code of Ethics that Zach and I write follows the structure of the ACM Code of Ethics. We have a preamble and then three sections. The three sections in our Code of Ethics are: General Moral Imperatives, Professional Responsibilities as a Notre Dame student or graduate, and Managerial Responsibilities as a Notre Dame student or graduate. The final part of the preamble is a disclaimer and gives a very brief overview of what is included in the Code. Finally we have a Compliance with the code.
Some of the highlights of the first section include “be[ing] honest and trustworthy”, “respect[ing] the intended use of technology”, and “honor[ing] the property of professors.” These three components are important because they apply to students everywhere. Being honest and trustworthy are very important characteristics to have. They are important not only while being a student, but also in everyday life. Using technology how it is intended, as long as the original intent isn’t malicious, is very important because there will be many times that someone has to face this in both their academic and professional career. The last highlight of the first section is necessary because it relates to the intellectual property, but it is specifically applied to a professor’s work.
Some of the highlights of the second section include “strive to increase the value of the Notre dame brand by producing the best work possible” and “be gracious of opportunities given to you and honor all contracts.” Representing the Notre Dame brand is important because it not only gives future graduates the ability to have a career in the respective company, but it also helps the professional’s (or ND graduate’s) career. A Notre Dame graduate also needs to recognize how fortunate they are for all the opportunities they are given. Through this, he or she needs to make sure that he or she honors all of their contracts.
Some of the highlights of the last section are “Manage project teams to produce work the advances the quality of life” and “Be a teacher.” Producing work that advances the quality of life is very important because otherwise it means that the work being produced is decreasing the quality of life. Being a teacher in the workplace can also be seen as being a mentor. Either way, this is important because at one point in someone’s professional career they will have a mentor, so it is important for them to give back.
Like all codes or laws, there are weaknesses in the document. Zach and I attempted to be as complete as possible, but someone can always argue against some of the points that we make. Something that could be changed would be adding a more suffice preamble and compliance with the code. The preamble is brief; we could have added more information about each section, instead of just naming the headers. The compliance is also a little vague. More could have been added to the compliance to sum up the whole code. The reason that both of these are weaknesses are in the code is because we did not spend a thousand hours and did not collaborate with anyone to get different opinions.
I do not believe this was a useful exercise. It isn’t necessarily a waste of time, but reflecting on a Code of Ethics could have accomplished the same thing. However, I fully agree that there is a benefit to thinking about a Code of Ethics. People need to know what is expected of them before they take on a job or a task. When people are held to a high standard, they will perform the work with more motivation and if they do not perform honestly, they will have no excuse to a questionable action that they commit.
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