Guest Editors

Editors' Message

We are very pleased to welcome you to this special issue of EngageCSEdu Open Educational Resources (OERs) on Responsible Computing: Embedding Principles, Practices, and Pedagogies. This special issue is informed by several recent efforts such as the National Academies of Sciences (NAS) report on responsible computing research (2022) and the Mozilla Foundation’s Responsible Computer Science Challenge (2021). These efforts underscore the pressing need to improve the educational commitment to ethics in computer and data science education. Furthermore, this special issue complements a growing body of work spanning disciplines including human-computer interaction, computer science, computing education, and the learning sciences in secondary (gr. 9-12) and post-secondary settings (undergraduate and early graduate). This work aims to develop diverse instructional materials for incorporating responsible computing curricula alongside traditional technical computer science content that cater to a variety of instructional contexts including programming assignments, guided discussion groups, role playing, reading and reflection assignments, policy analysis, creative media, and collaborative decision-making activities. A call for OERs was distributed in the summer of 2022. Following a double-anonymous peer-review, we accepted seven submissions to this special issue of EngageCSEdu on Responsible Computing.

The term responsible computing has been defined as the ability to “recognize professional responsibilities and make informed judgments in computing practice based on legal and ethical principles.” (ABET, 2021). This requires computer scientists and their students to actively examine both the benefits and harms of technologies before, during, and after any system design lifecycle (Martin, 1997). Early interdisciplinary efforts included a curriculum developed by Grosz and Simmons for the Embedded Ethics@Harvard project, Goldstein and Burton’s use of science fiction narratives to explore the responsibilities of technology creators, and Peck’s work on ethical reflection in early computing classes. More recently, two rounds of funding from the Mozilla Foundation’s Responsible Computing Challenge have supported dozens of interdisciplinary teams around the world in creating lessons to guide and inspire a growing number of instructors and students to examine the implications of design and development choices within the context of technical courses. Likewise, the recent launch of the ACM Journal of Responsible Computing lends additional support for the need to train new generations of computer scientists how to conduct rigorous research using multidisciplinary, interdisciplinary, and transdisciplinary concepts and methods to critically examine the potential impact of technologies before they are unleashed on society.

Collectively, the submissions in this special issue exemplify contemporary approaches to teaching and embedding responsible computing principles in secondary and post-secondary computing education settings. Moreover, they span various domains including human-centered computing; algorithmic fairness, accountability and transparency; data privacy protection techniques; and designing beneficial socio-technical systems, among others.

Many of the contributions in this special issue are focused on blending responsible computing principles into introductory CS content with the intent of normalizing discussions about how values are always embedded into technologies as students learn to create their first programs. For example, Walker and colleagues’ contribution on Sandbox Data Science along with Barrett’s lesson on creating critical thinkers emphasize the importance of embedding culturally relevant and creative approaches to teaching introductory computing concepts in post-secondary and K-12 settings. Likewise, the use of open source datasets such as those in Wein, Patterson, Brick, and Luken’s data analysis and visualization project and Fiesler, Dalal, and Paup’s lesson on developing security measures for passwords in Python could be easily incorporated into almost any CS0 to CS1 course. Other contributions focus on upper-level concepts and technical skills. For instance, Majedi and colleagues offer a timely set of companion lessons on the ethical implications of contact tracing systems that aligns with teaching concepts of fundamental data structures. Finally, Dube and Graziano offer an excellent example of embedding responsible computing principles such as data privacy, as applied to the design of information systems.

These accepted OERs are available for download on the EngageCSEdu website. We aim to continue to encourage computing ethics-related OERs for EngageCSEdu on a rolling basis, with the aim of expanding the content of EngageCSEdu to include diverse approaches to responsible computing, further enhancing EngageCSEdu’s new ethics and computing repository. We hope the OERs published in this special issue will serve as further inspiration for educators, researchers, and practitioners to continue to advance approaches to teaching and embedding responsible computing in diverse instructional contexts to support more equitable and responsible computer science. There is a great demand for responsible computing curricula development for intermediate and advanced topics and specialty research areas. Rich interdisciplinary partnerships between computing, social science, and humanities researchers have produced some of the most exciting demonstrations of relevant and meaningful responsible computing instruction. This is a growing community that is known for its commitment to collaboration across disciplinary expertise and across institutional settings. Our hope is as students become accustomed to evaluating the ethical impact of their own computing artifacts, they will in turn, expect their CS instructors in their core courses to discuss evolving technologies within the context of ethical computing practices and societal responsibilities for the protection of all.

To conclude, we encourage exploring additional online responsible computing instructional resources and to connect with the following project links and repositories:



  1. The Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET), Inc. 2024. Criterion 3: Criteria for Accrediting Computing Programs, 2024 – 2025.
  2. C. Dianne Martin. 1997. The case for integrating ethical and social impact into the computer science curriculum. In The supplemental proceedings of the conference on Integrating technology into computer science education: working group reports and supplemental proceedings, 114-120.