M. Elizabeth Karns is a lawyer and epidemiologist. Her teaching is directly connected to her practice, which has focused on statistical evidence, occupational illnesses, assault and harassment injuries, and reproductive harms. Professor Karns has been involved in every aspect of the data life cycle, from initial design to post-event forensic evaluations. Her work on data science ethics brings together professional practice norms, individual values, and organizational goals. Professor Karns is currently developing a virtual reality experience based on the unintended consequences of automated fraud detection.
In this course, you will examine the foundations of ethics in both people and organizations. By acquiring the skills to identify the sources of your own ethics, you will strengthen and clarify your ethical stance in the workplace. Through this lens, you will deploy “micro-ethics” in a decisive, purposeful way to situations you might encounter as a citizen in diverse communities such as teams, professional associations, organizations, or employers. This process will be informed by a survey of the “virtue ethics” framework along with mechanisms that help you handle ethical dilemmas. By the end of this course, you will have the necessary foundation to engage with ethics on a deeper level in your personal and professional contexts.
When a data project leaves your hands, the ethical choices you made will travel with it, and those choices can sometimes lead to significant consequences. In this course, you will apply your knowledge to situations where seemingly small ethical choices made by individuals result in large, “macro-ethics” problems of fairness, justice, privacy, and consent. You will trace the data science lifecycle to anticipate consequences and discuss the importance of transparency and accountability in your work. Finally, you will practice applying moral imagination to a data lifecycle and ecosystem then develop recommendations for monitoring and intervention based on that context. By recognizing the connections between desk-level choices and world-level impacts, you will acquire the skill to move your data science work in a positive direction.
What can you do to cultivate the right ethical choices? This course addresses this question by delving into the concept of “virtue ethics” and how it is applied in practical situations. You will explore how the virtue ethics framework relates to existing principles, practices, and codes of conduct in data science as well as how it can be used to inform decisions. First, you will develop the skill to analyze your own habits so they support your beliefs about your ethical character. You will then apply these concepts to a work setting, recognizing the guidelines that exist for your professional practice. Finally, you will discover how to navigate common situations where ethics are at odds with your professional goals or client needs, including situations when organizational ethics and individual ethics are unaligned. By integrating these concepts in practical ways, you will be set up with the tools and practices needed for success in your role and beyond.
Managing the dynamic between individual and organizational ethics can feel complicated without the proper tools and foundations. In this course, you will be introduced to the necessary tools to understand and engage with these frequently opposing contexts. You will apply virtue ethics concepts across individual, team, and organizational levels to create an environment that encourages all stakeholders to thrive. You will discover techniques for cultivating habits, reviewing processes for ethical flags, creating low-stakes mechanisms to raise ethical concerns, and building an ethical climate in performance reviews. Finally, you will engage with workplace practices around ethics, identifying strategies for handling situations in which ethics are central, including deploying rewards for ethical practices. By the end of this course, you will have the tools necessary to apply ethical concepts in workplace settings, helping you manage the dynamic between individual and organizational ethics to help every stakeholder succeed.
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