blue sky ethics-based ideas.Re: Writing Assignment 3
The end of your internship is approaching. Your supervisor is very impressed with your
work and has recommended that you be brought back after you graduate from USC.
As your final project as an intern, you have been asked to participate in your company’s
“Blue Sky Ethics” thinking initiative. This is a chance to suggest directions in thought
leadership for your company that could set them apart from competitors. “Blue Sky
Research” is generally the term to describe ideas that are not limited by practical
concerns. This initiative’s goal is for your company to have a positive impact on the
industry around an issue facing society. While you might not completely “solve” a
problem, at the very least you can use the company’s strengths to engage with the
problem. As an example, see Tim Cook’s (CEO of Apple) article on the steps needed to
protect consumer’s privacy:
Your supervisor thinks that you are the perfect person to make this proposal and offer
some good suggestions, due to your previous efforts to discuss employee activism
(Writing Assignment 1) as well as your exploration of technology and its potential impact
on society (analyzed in the second writing assignment).
Your proposal (in memo format) should examine an important social issue that you feel is
in need of new thinking. Choose any broad ethical issue in your field, most likely about
how an emerging technology or effects from existing technologies are having social,
economic and environmental effects.
A few examples: privacy of personal data, artificial intelligence/automation and its effect
on society, the environment, consequences of software development, the digital divide…
any ethical issue that you think is important and relevant to your company’s activities.
As an example, you might propose that Google increase its efforts to address the digital
divide. Include some thoughts about how the company could promote the cause by
raising awareness, develop programs, support internet access in schools, offer technical
training, set up partnerships, etc. You can utilize your insights from your own expertise
in your field – electrical engineering, computer science, etc.
Prepare a brief proposal that concisely and persuasively discusses an idea for your
company to address. The expectation is that your suggestions will provide a stance for
your company to generate further discussion in the industry, within the company and
potentially with customers and policy-makers.
Your Task: Write a Persuasive Proposal
You are to write an informative and persuasive proposal to your supervisor (which, if
approved, will be passed on to the company’s leadership). Your goal is to introduce your
“blue sky” ethics-based ideas and demonstrate the possibilities.
Your memo should include:
A summary paragraph of your proposal
An examination of the ethical issue and its impact: what is the ethical issue
(background), and what are the current/future effects?
A brief summary of thinking on the topic (to provide context and support for your
proposed solutions you should read a few articles to learn about the main debates,
impediments, and arguments)
The identification and discussion of your suggestions to address the negative
consequences of the issue that you are focusing on
A closing paragraph that summarizes the excitement and importance of your
proposal and shows benefit for the company
A few notes:
The memo should be approximately two pages (roughly 750-1000 words), and
should be addressed to your supervisor, Kendra Sikes
Use the posted memo format
Use informative headings, single spaced short paragraphs, no indent on first line,
skip a line between paragraphs
Provide citations for your sources. You may choose the format you prefer for
referencing your sources in the text (e.g. IEEE, MLA or APA). Include a
bibliography at the end of the memo (this is not traditionally an element of a
memo). You need at least 3 references. (acceptable sources include journal
articles, newspaper articles, books)
The memo is due via the course dropbox by 11:59 PM on Friday, July 26
Main Criteria for Success:
Identification and explanation of ethical issue
Summary of supporting material (articles, books, etc.)
Depth of analysis and persuasiveness
Clarity and readability
Audience-appropriate tone (professional, not overly informal)