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Course Information

Instructor Info:Jaime Davila
Office Extension x5687
TA Info:Charles Teese
Term: 2014S
Meeting Info: Tuesday Thursday
09:00 AM - 10:20 AM Adele Simmons Hall (ASH) 111
09:00 AM - 10:20 AM Adele Simmons Hall (ASH) 111

Inspired by the Edward Snowden and National Security Agency events of the summer of 2013, this course will examine the ways in which current technology facilitates and even encourages the collection of information on individuals, the ways in which that information can be used, pros and cons of such tendencies, and a variety of techniques to either expand or restrict the sharing and collection of data. The course will both deal with the mathematical foundations of these techniques and its social implications. While students might opt to write programming code or delve into very technical matters as part of the course, this will be only one of several ways to engage with the course, and will not be required. No previous computer experience is required for the course.

Course Objectives:

By the end of the semester, successful students will have gain exposure to the narratives around the "summer of 2013 Edward Snowden NSA revelations," as well as exposure to opinions about those narratives. Successful students will also gain knowledge on how data is collected during online activities, what that data can be used for, and how that data collection can be made easier or harder. Successful students will be exposed to cryptography theory, secure network, issues around big data, and recent advanced in computing a they relate to these issues (such as quantum computing, for example).

Evaluation Criteria:

Students will be evaluated based on short response papers demonstrating their understanding and exposure of the following key sections of the course:

  • what the "Snowden Leak" told us about NSA activities.
  • what key information regarding NSA activities we have come to find out since the summer of 2013.
  • How corporations (that is, not the government) collect and use data.
  • what is cryptography and how it works.
  • how do we protect our personal information while being active online.
  • why we might want to have the government to collect data.
  • why we might want private companies to collect data.
  • what is quantum computing, what difference it makes to technology, and how it is related to privacy issues.

All students will be required to write a response paper for each of these topics.

Additional Info:
  • There is no textbook for this course, but we will be doing A LOT of reading. We will all need to do a lot of research available from current publications, magazines, newspapers, etc.
  • This course will GREATLY emphasize critical thinking. We will continually be challenged to explore all points of view. I am happy for each of us to hold our own points of view, but all points of view will need to be supported by data/information.
  • There will be moments in the course when we will disagree. We will do so respectfully, with care for each other, and with the understanding that we are constructing a better society, for everyone, together. We will all act accordingly.


Everyone, read our academic honesty policy! It's important! Information is available here: , here: , and here: .