Teaching Responsible Computing Playbook

Teaching Responsible Computing Playbook


Welcome to the Teaching Responsible Computing Playbook, a collaboration of an inaugural 32 authors and contributors across disciplines and computing programs. Each topic area is portrayed with a lens on Responsible Computing and includes:

DESCRIPTION: Why should the topic be considered in teaching responsible computing?

KEY QUESTIONS: Questions for teaching team to consider when teaching responsible computing.

CHECKLIST: A list to consider when encountering the topic area.

EXAMPLES: Shared experiences of teaching responsible computing in a real setting.

RESOURCES: Links to relevant resources not covered in the Playbook.

RELATED SECTION: Other sections in the Playbook that are closely related to the current one. 

The ultimate goal of Teaching Responsible Computing is to educate a new wave of students who bring holistic thinking to the design of technology products. To do this, it is critical for departments to work together across computing, humanistic studies, and more, and collaborate across institutions. This Playbook offers the lessons learned from the process of adapting and enhancing curricula to include responsible computing in a broad set of institutions and help others get started doing the same in their curricula. 

The original impetus for the playbook came from the Responsible Computer Science Challenge, where colleges and universities conceptualized, developed, and piloted undergraduate computing curricula that integrate ethics and responsibility. The Challenge unearthed and sparked innovative coursework that will not only be implemented at the participating home institutions, but also be scaled to additional colleges and universities across the country — and beyond. We are thrilled that the growing list of contributors has expanded beyond the original Responsible Computer Science Challenge cohort, and the aim is for the playbook to continue to grow. 

A few points to consider as you read through the Playbook:
  • We define responsible computing loosely as designing computing artifacts that need to take society into consideration. Not doing so can lead to harm in society, even if the harm was unintended.
  • This is called the “Teaching Responsible Computing Playbook,” and we believe it takes a collaboration of many disciplines to make this possible.
  • The Playbook is meant to be a starting point. You will likely make modifications to make the ideas work in your institution. The Playbook is also a living document and we encourage you to submit updates to the playbook..
  • Incorporating responsible computing into curricula can be challenging. Each step to move the needle helps. It is important to help students enter the workforce having considered these topics and conversations. 
  • We especially welcome contributions from non-US based educators. As it currently stands, the Playbook is written by US-based participants. 
  • We acknowledge that the Responsible Computer Science Challenge cohort is a small subset of educators and researchers working on incorporating responsible computing into undergraduate curricula. If you have worked in this area, please consider contributing your examples as well.
  • For an overview of the contents of the playbook, please take a look at the topics page.
  • We welcome Playbook contributions and feedback. Please submit your contributions and feedback via this form.

Happy Reading,

Kathy Pham and Atri Rudra, Co-Editors


This Playbook was made possible by the Responsible Computer Science Challenge, funded by Omidyar Network, Mozilla Foundation, Schmidt Futures, and Craig Newmark Philanthropies. We also especially thank Sandra Matteucci for technical writing and copy editing leadership in the first version of this Playbook.

logo of responsible CS challenge