Ethics: A Definition
The art and science that seeks to bring sensitivity and method to the discernment of moral values and actions.
The Importance of Information Ethics
In our increasingly complex and technologically dependent society, many critical issues relevant to information access and usage are misunderstood, overlooked, or simply ignored. Some of these issues involve an individual’s privacy vs. the public’s “right to know.” Other issues include the extent to which an employer may have access to its employees’ medical records, e-mail, personnel files, and other confidential information. Still other issues concern the increased need for security of information content and systems to protect against terrorist attacks.
In a growing number of cases, difficult decisions across the full life cycle of information – from its creation and generation; through its organization, management, and preservation; to its evaluation, dissemination and use – are placing information practitioners in sensitive and sometimes vulnerable positions.
The expertise of information professionals entails an inherent measure of power. This power is rooted in the professional’s ability to almost instantly locate, access, and retrieve information using resources located, quite literally, at his or her fingertips. Information professionals, as well as those who rely upon them to provide a wide array of information, must recognize and understand the responsibilities associated with this power. Even those who use information obtained in a responsible and ethical manner face continual struggles in a society in which the capabilities of technology often outpace full comprehension of its moral implications.
The goal of this Institute is to work toward encouraging government agencies, corporations, and non-profit organizations building information systems and services to understand and consider ethical and policy issues and to incorporate this understanding into the systems and services. The Institute will bring together scholars, policy makers, educators, practitioners, and students from around the world to pursue research, make recommendations for policies and practices, and educate a new generation of leaders who can integrate information ethics into the teaching of policy and information technology.
The Goal of the Information Ethics Course at the School of Information Sciences
Decision-making and problem solving should include ethical reflection. By recognizing, understanding, and evaluating potential solutions to problems associated with information, information professionals can undertake their responsibilities in an efficient, confident, and ethical manner. Providing a framework that will help to prepare and guide information professionals as they encounter and respond to ethical challenges, which impact their decision-making processes, is the goal of the Information Ethics course at the School of Information Sciences (SIS).