AI, Ethics, and Geoethics (CS 5970)

Module 1: Logistics and Introduction


  • Welcome and course logistics and overview
  • This module will take one week to complete


Welcome to the inaugural AI, Ethics, and Geoethics class! This class is going to be a lot of fun and I am really looking forward to working with you!

I assume you have questions about expectations and how class will run. Since this course is online and asynchronous, it may look differently than how your traditional classes look.  One note before we move on to how class will run: we chose asynchronous even outside of the pandemic because we want to share the material across all of our NSF AI Institute for Trustworthy AI in Weather, Climate, and Coastal Oceanography.  You may have people interacting with you from other universities and that is great!

Course logistics

Course structure for all participants

  • The course is organized into themes/topics, all listed as modules on the main course website.
  • Any of the AI2ES participants are welcome to participate in the course discussions on slack (see assignments for this module).
  • Each module will have a summary at the top saying how long that module is expected to take to complete (some modules are 1 week while others are expected to take longer)
  • Each module will have a list of assignments at the bottom of the main module page
  • There are 3 cross-cutting modules at the bottom of the main course website.  We will introduce each one in a later set of assignments but so you know:  The project module will collect all information on the project (which will be active throughout the semester).   The In-The-News module will feature a semester long discussion of how AI, ethics, and geoethics show up in current news.  Finally, the information module will contain links to important information like the final syllabus and the mid-semester evaluations.

Course structure for OU students:

  • At the start of each week, I will summarize the plans for the week and send a class-wide email plus post in announcements.
  • Each canvas module will be labeled with the week I expect you to work on that module (e.g. it will say Week 1 or Weeks 2-3, etc.).  The canvas modules will link directly to the materials on this website under the topic modules.
  • Canvas will have all of the assignments/points
  • At the end of each week, I’ll summarize what we have done as a class and send individual notes to each student about their progress and participation 

Class expectations:

  • I assume you will spend about about 6 hours per week on class.  If this was in person, we would have 3 hours of lecture/discussion and 3 hours of homework per week.  Remember, the class is completely asynchronous. I have assignments and expectations for you due each week but you decide on your schedule.  
  • I assume you will be an active participant in class!  This is intended to be a seminar-style discussion class.  That kind of class can happen asynchronously but you have to do your part and engage in the discussions actively throughout the week and not just at the end of the week just to “catch-up”.
  • Given that this is structured as a seminar-style discussion class, there will not be many lecture videos and instead will focus on reading and discussion.  

Class schedule:

  • I have structured the deadlines to space out the assignments through the week.  This is to help you remain engaged all week.  However, it is an online class and flexibility is great!  As you will learn when we discuss grading, the deadlines are highly flexible.  Each grading declaration will close Sunday 11:59pm for that week, even if I ask for you to complete the item by an earlier day.
  • OU removed spring break but we all need some amount of downtime.  Week 5 and Week 10 will mostly be catch-up weeks as well as mid-semester self-evaluations.

Class tools:

  • Because we are sharing this material across AI2ES, as much as possible by law, we will share course materials on the AI2ES course website. 
  • For OU students, canvas will store all grades/points and links to all assignments
    • Hypothesis (inside canvas) will enable us to do some interactive reading and annotations using hypothesis (this is only licensed to be used inside canvas so the same material will be linked for participants outside of OU but without the discussion aspect.)
  • Slack will manage all discussions and DMs (except for the weekly personal email) – Slack will be our main mode of communication!

Required course materials:

  • All required books and videos will be available for free through the OU library.  We cannot provide access to people outside OU but the book or video title will be provided so that you can find access through your own university or library.
  • There will be some optional readings that you choose.  Some of these may be available through the library and some are online in general.  If you need to purchase a book and have financial issues, please talk to me and I’ll ask the library about purchasing a digital copy for all of us!

Announcements: Announcements will go on slack on the #announcements channel as well as the canvas announcements page.

Accommodations: If you need accommodations, please register with the Office of Disability Services and they will email me.  Please feel free to contact me with any concerns or questions that you have about any kind of accommodations you think you might need. Online classes are really flexible, and I am sure we can come up with a good solution for any concerns you might have. Just let me know!

Contact me anytime! I hope you will find answers to all your questions about how class will work as you work through the first week of activities.  However, please feel free to slack DM me, ask on a public slack channel if it of wide interest, or even email me.  I don’t always check messages instantly in the evenings or on the weekends, but I am at work every day, Monday through Friday (and if I’m going to be out of the office during business hours, you’ll see a note about that in the announcements).

Have fun in class! I look forward to working with you on class and to having fun learning together!

Assignments for Module 1

Day 1 


  • (60 min) Designing your own course 
  • (30 min) Introductions
    • Set up your account in slack via the link in canvas or by emailing Dr. McGovern (if you are outside OU).  Make sure you use the name you wish to be called but please don’t use your online or gaming nickname (e.g. I need to know who you are, not “AIEthicsNerd4”)
    • Introduce yourself in the introductions channel.  Answer the following questions:
      • Who are you?
      • What is the history of your preferred name?
      • Why did you enroll in this course and what do you hope to get out of it?
    • Learn how to use emojis and wave at your fellow students virtually in slack
    • OU students: complete the slack grading declaration on canvas (called “Module 1: Slack introductions”)

Day 2 

  • (60 min) Syllabus
    • Read about how we are designing (parts) of the syllabus this semester .  Make sure to complete the commenting assignment in this reading.
    • At 11:59pm on Sunday of week 1 the comments will close and I will post a final syllabus to week 2.
    • OU students: Complete your grading declaration for the syllabus task (called “Module 1: Designing the syllabus”)
  • (20 min) Interactive discussions
    • Learn how to use threads in slack.  Reply to other students on their introduction thread.  Reply to at least 3 of your fellow students by Wednesday.
    • OU students: complete the slack grading declaration on canvas (called “Module 1: Slack responses”)
  • (30-45 min) Learn about effective online learning time managements skills
    • OU students: complete the grading declaration on canvas (called “Module 1: Time management skills”)

Day 3