The Genesis of the Centre for Computing & Social Responsibility (CCSR)

Simon Rogerson

Simon Rogerson is lifetime Professor Emeritus in Computer Ethics at the Centre for Computing and Social Responsibility (CCSR), De Montfort University. He was the founder and is the current editor of the Journal of Information, Communication and Ethics in Society. He has had two careers; first as a technical software developer and then in academia as reformer (according to Huff and Barnard). He was the founding Director of CCSR, launching it in 1995 at the first ETHICOMP conference which he conceived and co-directed until 2013. He became Europe's first Professor in Computer Ethics in 1998. His most important research focuses on providing rigorously grounded practical tools and guidance to computing practitioners. For his leadership and research achievements in the computer and information ethics interdisciplinary field he was awarded the fifth IFIP-WG9.2 Namur Award in 2000 and the SIGCAS Making a Difference Award in 2005.

The Genesis of the Centre for Computing & Social Responsibility (CCSR)


This paper tracks the events leading up to the launch of the Centre for Computing and Social Responsibility in 1995. The first few months of frenetic activity to establish a viable research unit are analysed. A new typology is designed for analysing higher education departments. This is used to map some of the key events and activities as CCSR matured into a research centre of international standing. This analysis is primarily focused on the period up to 2010. The paper concludes with contextualising current and future CCSR activity against this historical analysis.


Alvey, Computer Ethics, ETHICOMP, RAE, Social Responsibility, SoDIS, Stages of Growth, Typology, Code of Ethics 


The creation of an organisational entity is often the result of a series of events, meetings and opportunities which may not seem related at the time but turn out to be monumental in their collective whole. Such is the case with the genesis of the Centre for Computing and Social Responsibility (CCSR). This paper records the journey which has resulted in CCSR now being accepted as a world-class, interdisciplinary research centre for ethical digital technology. A Google search of the Centre’s name (28/01/2021) revealed nearly 400k hits which is indicative of CCSR’s global reach.

The paper begins with a discussion about a set of seemingly unrelated events starting in 1982 which resulted in the launch of CCSR at ETHICOMP95. This is followed by an account of the launch of CCSR and the first few frenetic months of activity. The remaining account of the genesis of CCSR is then structured not chronologically but through the use of a typology. This typology illustrates the range of spheres that CCSR actively participated in as it progressed from its launch into a mature applied research operation.

Seemingly unrelated events

In 1982, the Conservative Government of the UK initiated the Alvey Report in response to the Japanese fifth generation project. Chaired by John Alvey, who was head of R&D at British Telecom, the report highlighted the shortcomings in the UK of Information Technology (IT) expertise, application and education (Alvey, 1982). This report triggered, in 1983, the Alvey Programme, which was five-year programme of precompetitive collaborative IT R&D. Alongside this, in 1982, the UK Government launched  an initiative to increase the number of places on first degree, higher diploma and higher certificate courses relating to IT. It also included creating new one-year post-graduate conversion courses for well-qualified graduates in non-IT subjects to become IT specialists in a relatively short time (Wellington, 1988). Recognising the need to increase lecturing staff to resource the increase in higher education IT students, a “new blood” initiative was launched in parallel which provided funds to recruit 70 lecturers. These lecturers were expected to have industrial IT experience. It was through this initiative that I joined Leicester Polytechnic as a Senior Lecturer in September 1983. It was a significant career change, moving from industry working as a computing professional to academia to lecture to degree students. In 1985, I became the course leader for the MSc Computing which was one of the one-year conversion courses established through the government initiative.

In 1988 I wrote, as the MSc Computing course leader, “The world of IT is a challenging world both for developers and for those who use IT products and services. Information technology is widely recognised as a competitive tool, crucial to the wellbeing of organisations. It is a technology which can have detrimental side effects on society. Those involved in IT development have the responsibility of optimising efficiency and effectiveness in satisfying user needs but also have a responsibility for ensuring that IT is used wisely for organisations and society as a whole.” (Rogerson, 1988, p51). This was an early indication of the need to consider issues beyond the traditional technical educational mix in order to deliver societally-acceptable IT. This thinking aligned with the Data Protection Act training course which I ran for the East Midlands Housing Association in 1987. 

The Further and Higher Education Act 1992  was a major milestone in higher education in England and Wales (similar legislation occurred in Scotland). The goal was to end the distinction between colleges and universities thus removing the so-called binary divide. Thirty five polytechnics became universities including Leicester Polytechnic which became De Montfort University. In its commemorative brochure, De Montfort University (DMU) stated, “[the polytechnics’] success, quality and maturity were fully recognised in their designation in 1989 as fully independent and autonomous  bodies; in the capacity from 1992 to award their own degrees; and in their acceptance in the same year of the title of university. … Her Majesty’s Inspectorate in 1992 [stated at Leicester Polytechnic] 86% of students in the institution were on courses of outstanding quality … it had the highest number of computer and IT graduates in the country.” From that point DMU began to place significant emphasis on research across all disciplines. Drawing upon its vocational heritage, the University increased its focus on applied research and encouraged links with outside organisations which might participate in such research. All staff within the School of Computing Sciences were encouraged to engage in both teaching and research. This was a challenging situation for many of us as we had little or no research experience. Chris Fidler joined the Department of Information Systems on 1 September 1988, having just graduated from York University with a DPhil entitled “Towards the development of a management support environment (MSE): the rationale and requirements for, and architecture of, an integrated computer-based system to support organisational management”. Chris took over from me the final year module Management Support Systems. We became good colleagues and she was instrumental in helping me develop into a researcher. We co-supervised doctoral students, co-authored research papers and jointly published Strategic Management Support Systems in 1996.

As a computing practitioner I had worked on many systems development projects and, like most,  had encountered successes as well as failures. Indeed, the computer industry had a growing reputation for failed systems. The question which I kept returning to was, why was system failure commonplace?  I wanted to find an answer to this question so I could better prepare final year undergraduates for the world of work. It was then I began to consider the role of computer professionals in a broader context. In 1990, the School of Computing Sciences launched the BA/BSc in Business Information Systems. I was the founding course leader and delivered the Systems Development Management final year module which included a professionalism component covering responsibility, integrity, confidentiality and impartiality. This topic was not covered in either of the set texts and so materials were created based on a wide range of sources. Similar topics were covered in the Computing Environments final year module for the BSc Computer Science. My search for the broader context led me to the work of, for example, Richard Mason(1986) and Deborah Johnson (1985), and organisations such as Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility which was founded in 1981. In October 1994, students in the second cohort of the Business Information Systems were about to enter their final year. I developed a new module Computer Ethics for them which would address the broader social context within which computing resided. An ethics-oriented module had never before been offered in the School of Computing Sciences. It raised a few eyebrows!

In September 1994 Professor Paul Luker succeeded Professor Don Conway as the Head of the School of Computing Sciences. He had spent much of his academic career in the USA at the California Institute of Technology leading computer science research and teaching. He had a strong sense of technology being an integral part of society and with that came a professional responsibility for all those involved in the technology. Indeed, many years later, as a Senior Associate, at the Higher Education Academy, he wrote, “… whatever else higher education achieves in respect to the acquisition of knowledge and skills, it must equip graduates to be responsible global citizens.” (Luker, 2008, p11). 

The Beginning

One Friday afternoon in June 1993, I was working in my office when my Head of Department, Professor David Howe rang and asked me to go to his office to discuss a letter he had just received. It was from Professor Terrell Ward Bynum from Southern Connecticut State University. The letter explained that Professor Bynum, an expert in computer ethics, was seeking a UK university to host him for his six-month sabbatical. David knew I was starting to work in this area and thought it would be an excellent opportunity to develop this interest into research. He asked me to draft out a response as a matter of urgency. Back in my office, I conceived a plan. Our department would host an international conference to investigate the wider societal implications of IT. It would be called ETHICOMP. Professor Bynum and I would be the co-directors. Professor Bynum would have the opportunity to share his work with our undergraduate and postgraduate students. He would been invited to PITCOM (Parliamentary IT Committee) of which I was a member. David Howe sent the invitation to Professor Bynum. Little did we know that many letters of invitation were received by Professor Bynum, most from universities which would form the Russell Group in 1994. Professor Bynum chose to accept our invitation and so began our working relationship which would change the course of research and education in the Department, the School and the University, and indeed would significantly influence international activity in this area.

Terry was appointed as a visiting Professor in the Department of Information Systems in the School of Computing Sciences from 1 January 1995 to 30 June 1995. In his letter of appointment, dated 7 November 1994, the Vice-Chancellor, Professor Kenneth Barker wrote, “It is envisaged that you will work with Simon Rogerson in establishing Computer Ethics as a research and teaching area within the Department of Information Systems. … Specific activities will include co-directorship of the ETHICOMP95 conference, joint research activity in the area, delivery of staff seminars and contribution to computer ethics teaching. … You will submit a report to Professor Paul Luker advising on the development and maintenance of a strong research agenda in computer ethics within the School of Computing Sciences.”


June 93 First contact with Professor Bynum to explore a sabbatical in the Department of Information Systems.
January 94 Professor Bynum accepts invitation in principle.
April 94 Level 3 Computing and Ethics module validated.
May 94 ETHICOMP95 launched via a call for papers.
August 94 Visiting professorship agreed for Professor Bynum. S Rogerson visits US to have further discussions.
October 94 Research projects on Data Subject access and Ethics in the pharmaceutical industry commenced.
December 94 High quality papers received from 10 countries for ETHICOMP95. Sponsored ethics essay competition launched on the internet.
January 95 Professor Bynum arrives to commence a 6 month term of office. Joint paper submitted to COOCS95, a renowned ACM conference. Two other papers in preparation. Invited to exhibit at the Parliamentary IT Committee (PITCOM) conference on the politics of multimedia. Links established with the Computer Ethics Research Centre in Poznan, Poland with two professors presenting papers at ETHICOMP95.
February 95 S Rogerson invited to collaborate with University of Wolverhampton on a research project on a computer based aid for resolving ethical dilemmas in the computing field. S Rogerson invited to review a book and journal papers and to be on the review panel for a Professional Issues in Computing conference at the University of Westminster. Ethics paper by S Rogerson in IDPM professional journal. Grant received from the Southern Connecticut State University to help cover expenses of ETHICOMP95. National press express great interest in ETHICOMP95. 
March 95 PITCOM conference. ETHICOMP95. Launch of the Centre at the conference dinner. Formation of the international network of research centres.


Figure 1 Key events leading to the launch of CCSR (extracted from the joint report)

As soon as Terry accepted David Howe’s invitation Terry and I began to work together. We first met in August 1994 when I visited the USA where I was involved in the IFIP WG8.2 Working Conference at the University of Michigan. We developed a plan for sustaining ongoing computer ethics activity at DMU and used Terry’s condition of appointment to deliver a report to Paul Luker to present a proposal for establishing a new research centre within the school which would link with the Research Center on Computing and Society at Southern Connecticut State University which Terry headed. In the proposal we wrote, “Over a period of 18 months an excellent working relationship has been established between Professor Bynum and Simon Rogerson resulting in a range of successful initiatives. The natural progression of this relationship is to establish a research centre at De Montfort University in order that the university can effectively participate in this international arena.” Figure 1 records the progress made during that 18 month period. Our joint report was accepted by Paul and so CCSR would be launched at ETHICOMP95.

Figure 2 The ETHICOMP95 pamphlet

Having committed to holding ETHICOMP95, the challenge then was how to get papers submitted and delegates attending that conference. At that time, like most universities, the marketing and publicity emphasis was on paper brochures, postal mailshots and telephone calling. So an ETHICOMP95 pamphlet was printed (see Figure 2) and sent out to many hundreds of university contacts. Bert Logan was a colleague in the Department of Computer Science who had a keen interest in the use of IT in society. He suggested that I should use the fledgling Internet to publicise the conference. He taught me how to use Archie, FTP and email. The vast majority of those who submitted papers to and attended ETHICOMP95 came from the Internet campaign. Some came through Terry’s contacts, but none came from the pamphlet mailshot. It was such a clear message about how the world was rapidly changing.

The call for papers resulted in 25 papers and six workshops being accepted. In addition, there were three keynote speakers. Alongside the call for papers, a doctoral ethics essay competition was launched. It was sponsored by the Institute of Administrative Management, the Institute of Data Processing Management  and Pitman Publishing. There were 18 entries. The six winners and three runners-up were funded by the sponsors to attend the conference. Presenters and delegates represented 13 countries and four continents. The conference dinner was held at Bosworth Hall Hotel on the evening of 29 March. Elizabeth France, The Data Protection Registrar gave the after-dinner address entitled Data Protection and the European Union. After that the Centre for Computing and Social Responsibility was launched by Paul, Terry and me (see Figure 3). A brochure about CCSR was circulated to all delegates.

Figure 3 Taken at ETHICOMP95 conference dinner following the launch of CCSR

(L to R: Chuck Huff, David Howe, Porfirio Barroso, Terry Bynum, Elizabeth France, Paul Luker, Simon Rogerson, Jacques Berleur, Duncan Langford, Krystyna Gorniak, Jacek Sojka)

The mission of CCSR was stated as “To undertake research and provide teaching, consultancy and advice to individuals, communities, organisations and governments at local, national and international levels on the impact of computing and related technologies on society and its citizens.” The aims and objectives as stated in the brochure are shown in Figure 4. A window of opportunity existed for CCSR to become the focal point for computer ethics in the UK and one of the leaders in Europe and world-wide.

Figure 4 CCSR’s aims and objectives [extract from launch brochure]

On 30 March 1995, CCSR existed – it had an international reputation but an extremely limited track record comprising, the presentation at PITCOM, two papers at ETHICOMP95 (one by Mary Prior and the other by Terry Bynum and Simon Rogerson), and an article in the IDPM journal. What followed was a series of actions which would define CCSR and create a foundation which still has validity. Terry and I wrote a review of progress which we presented to Paul on 14 June 1995. The opening statement commenced, “The events leading up to the establishment of CCSR and the subsequent events have been on a fast track development cycle. The six months collaboration between Bynum and Rogerson has been impressive and extremely fruitful. This is seen as the engine which has driven all the developments to date. This genuine partnership between computing and philosophy has been commented on by many as being unique and having the potential to change radically the field of computer ethics.” The report included a list of achievements against CCSR’s three aims. This list is shown in Figure 5. 


Figure 5 Achievements to Date [extract from CCSR review 14 June 1995]

The success of this partnership led to Terry’s professorship being immediately renewed until 30 June 1998. At this time on 22 June 1995, Professor Kenneth Barker wrote, “You will be associated with the Centre for Computing and Social Responsibility and work closely with the Centre’s Director, Simon Rogerson. … Specific activities will include membership of the Centre’s International Advisory Board, joint research in the area, collaboration in establishing a world consortium for computing and society using the Internet, joint funding initiatives.” This was the end of the beginning!

Presence Typology

Whilst a chronological account is historically valuable other types of account offer different perspectives and interpretations. A chronological analysis was appropriate to understand the events leading up to the establishment of CCSR and the first period thereafter. For an organisation to mature and expand it needs to function across a range of fronts; CCSR was no exception. For this reason, a different approach, typological analysis was chosen to investigate CCSR’s journey towards international research standing. 


Presence Typology
Sphere Explanation of coverage 
Academia The community concerned with the pursuit of research, education, and scholarship sustained by access, openness, inclusivity and freedom.
Research This involves the participation in extending the body of knowledge through original thought, experimentation and application.
Teaching Delivery of appropriate teaching and learning which embraces and explores development and application.
Physical Identity and culture are portrayed through explicit physical entities such as location and layout of accommodation.
Virtual Global visibility is achieved via the virtual world through, for example, social media, video streaming and web portals 
Political  Local, national and international political systems will significantly influence the impact of applied research. 
Industrial Effective applied research is reliant upon good links with industry and subsequent partnerships. 
Professional Engagement is essential with professional bodies which represent, influence and govern professional practice.
Institutional Participation in institutional leadership, administration, review and growth.
Funding This covers both the recognised funding bodies and opportunistic funding activities
International Global collaborations with individuals at all levels, as well as collective organisations.


Figure 6 Presence Typology for Higher Education Departments 

Given (2008) explains that typological analysis centres on the development of a set of related but distinct categories which, as a whole describe, an object, subject or phenomenon. For this study, a top-down typological analysis was chosen which MacNeil (2000) explains uses a bounded set of predefined categories. This set is then populated with the collected data. This structured collection offers a rich description of the entity under investigation.

A Presence Typology was constructed as shown in the table in Figure 6. It comprises 11 spheres within which a higher education department or centre needs to have a presence in order to progress and mature. This typology has been used to highlight some of the significant activities which took place within each sphere. The main period covered in this analysis was from 1995 to 2010. Some activities might span more than one sphere in which case the dominant sphere has been chosen. It demonstrates that presence across all spheres is essential to realise real impact in the field of operation.

Academic sphere

[A] Academic Journal – JICES – The computer ethics community rapidly grew from 1995 and especially so in Europe mainly due to the ETHICOMP series. This led, in 2003, to the launch of a new academic peer reviewed journal, the Journal of Information, Communication and Ethics in Society (JICES). It was published by Troubador Publishing which is an independent UK publisher based in Leicester. Simon Rogerson and N Ben Fairweather were the founding co-editors. JICES was acquired by Emerald Publishing in June 2007. JICES promotes thoughtful dialogue regarding the wider social and ethical issues related to the planning, development, implementation and use of new media and information and communication technologies. Now in its nineteenth volume, JICES continues to provide insight into the social and ethical benefits and risks of digital technology.

In the editorial of the first edition of JICES (originally known as ICES), Fairweather and Rogerson (2003, p7) wrote that the computer ethics, “…community is multidisciplinary including those from computer science, information systems, law, media, philosophy, politics, psychology, sociology, and software engineering. Partnerships have been forged across disciplines in order to study and address some of the greatest challenges faced by society with the advent of the advancing information and communication technologies. Indeed we as Editors in Chief are indicative of such partnerships. It is against this backdrop of technological advance and increasing scholarly activity that the Journal of Information, Communication and Ethics in Society (ICES) has been launched. ICES is an interdisciplinary journal which addresses the social and ethical impacts of new media, and information and communication technologies. The editorial board of ICES is drawn from eminent scholars across a wide range of disciplines. The board’s international membership aids ICES in promoting a cross cultural and global perspective. It is a top class refereed journal which appeals to a wide audience.”

Figure 7 Computer ethics students from DMU with presenters at Etica e Informatica, Cursos de Verano (L to R: student, Jacques Berleur, student, student, Deborah Johnson, Porfirio Barroso, student, Terry Bynum, Mark Frankel, Simon Rogerson)

[B] Opportunity – Whilst there continue to be increases in audit and monitoring, and decreases in financial and non-financial resources, nevertheless academia offers wonderful opportunity based on autonomy, influence, impact, freedom, collaboration and exploration. CCSR is testimony to that. Opportunity might be self-generated but in many cases it must be created by others. CCSR encouraged students and early career academics. Since 1988 Universidad Complutense Madrid has run an international summer school at San Lorenzo de El Escorial. In 1996, Professor Porfirio Barroso, who attended ETHICOMP95, invited Bynum and Rogerson to lead a new element of the summer school, Ethics and Information. Four funded places to attend this activity were secured for final year DMU undergraduates on the Computer Ethics module. An essay competition was held and four students were chosen from the many entries. Figure 7 shows the four students with the key presenters.

Placement students acting as the CCSR webmaster had the opportunity to maintain a world-class website and several used this experience to secure web-based jobs on graduating. These students were also part of the team undertaking the longitudinal professional attitude studies and, consequently, on completing their placement were co-authors of an official publication. The hosting by CCSR of visiting professors offered opportunities for doctoral students. Professor Jean Camp enabled Sara Wilford to undertake part of her studies from September 2002 to May 2003 at Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard University on a pre-doctoral fellowship. Mohammed Begg visited Charles Sturt University in Australia to work with Yeslam Al-Saggaf who was a doctoral student of Professor John Weckert. Yeslam had a reciprocal visit to CCSR. This resulted in their joint publication (Al‐Saggaf & Begg, 2004). In his acknowledgements in his thesis Mohamed Begg wrote that CCSR, “enabled me to meet and link up with many academics from all over the world through seminars, attending and presenting papers at conferences in the UK, the USA, Italy, Poland and Emirates in the Middle East. Additionally an opportunity provided through my supervisors to teach in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and an exchange visit to Charles Sturt University in Wagga Wagga and Australian National University in Canberra, Australia, during the summer of 2002, proved invaluable towards my research development.” In 2010, Yohko Orito, who was a former doctoral student of Professor Kiyoshi Murata, spent four months undertaking research at CCSR which was subsequently published (Orito, 2011)  

Research sphere

[A] Research Assessment Exercise (RAE) – During the period 1995-2010 there were three RAEs: RAE 1996, RAE 2001 and RAE 2008. Rogerson was one of four undertaking research within the Information Systems (IS) Department to be submitted as a subgroup to Unit of Assessment (UoA) 43 Business and Management Studies. DMU’s Business School comprised 53 of the 57 submissions. The submission deadline was 30 April 1996 and so there was little opportunity to submit significant CCSR generated output. In RAE 2001, 8 members of IS staff were submitted to UoA 61 – Library and Information Management [1]. Bynum, Fairweather, Gotterbarn and Rogerson of CCSR were part of this submission to achieve a 3a rating which demonstrated international excellence. This was the first time the group had been submitted independently and consequently was a noteworthy success. The panel feedback report “noted a strength in ethics” which was a direct positive endorsement of CCSR. By 2008 CCSR’s research reputation had grown significantly. Consequently, CCSR was submitted as a major research group under UoA 23 – Computer Science and Informatics [2]. The CCSR members in the submission were Bynum, Fairweather, Gotterbarn, McBride, McRobb, Rogerson and Stahl. The submission explained how CCSR research embraced four interrelated and interdisciplinary themes: technology assessment, concepts of the discipline, professional practice, and systems development and service delivery. 

[B] Research students – Research students have played a significant role in furthering CCSR’s contribution to the field. In 1998, CCSR was allocated its first doctoral studentship as part of the ongoing research programme of the Department of Information Systems. This was awarded to Xiaojain Wu to investigate the role of ethical considerations in systems development strategies and methodologies. In 2002, he became the first person to be awarded a PhD from CCSR. A further DMU studentship was allocated to CCSR in 1999. This was a collaboration between CCSR and the Department of Public Policy and Managerial Studies to investigate privacy, liberty and data protection. It was awarded to Sara Wilford who graduated in 2004; her thesis was entitled, Information and communication technology privacy and policies within organisations : an analysis from the perspective of the individual [3]. Mohamed Begg attended a computer ethics training workshop in February 1996 run by Simon Rogerson. On 31 October 1996 Mohamed Begg, then working for Leicester City Council, met with members of CCSR to discuss establishing a link between CCSR and The Islamic Centre in Leicester. The link was forged with a joint seminar being held at the mosque on 3 March 1997. One of the outcomes of that link was that Mohamed left his job to commence a PhD. He graduated in 2003; his thesis was entitled, The impact of information and communications technologies on the local Muslim community in Leicester [4]. Sara and Mohamed eventually became full time academic members of staff within CCSR. During this period, existing members of academic staff across DMU were encouraged, when the opportunity arose, to upgrade their qualifications by undertaking a part-time PhD. Richard Howley within the Department of Information Systems took advantage of this scheme and graduated in 2007. His thesis was entitled, The role of information systems professionals in the provision for privacy and data protection within organisations, systems and the systems development process [5] Sara and Richard would eventually team up to promote ongoing research and teaching activities in data protection, privacy and security. These early doctoral foundations resulted in the Information Society Doctoral Programme which is discussed below in the Institutional sphere.

[C] Professorial standing and branding – On 23 September 1998, De Montfort University conferred the title Professor in Computer Ethics on Simon Rogerson. The press release at the time explained he was Europe’s first Professor in Computer Ethics. This was a significant step in the genesis of CCSR. Whilst it was a personal accolade, more importantly it gave permanent professorial status to CCSR and with that many doors began to open. Furthermore, through being first, it was a clear statement that the field of Computer Ethics was interdisciplinary, and both theoretical and practical rather than simply a branch of theoretical philosophy. Shortly afterwards, Jeroen van den Hoven, who had presented a paper at ETHICOMP95, was conferred with the title Professor by Erasmus University in Rotterdam. Jeroen is a philosopher who continues to be a leader in the field focusing on the philosophical underpinning. Bernd Stahl joined CCSR in 2003 and quickly made significant contributions to the work of the centre. In the summer of 2009, he became Professor of Critical Research in Technology. It was another milestone in that CCSR now had two fulltime professors leading its research activity. Today the number of professors working in the centre continues to grow [6]. Professorial standing and branding are important in sustaining visibility and credibility in national and international fora.

Teaching sphere

[A] Degree course modules – As mentioned earlier, CCSR was founded on teaching modules. The link between teaching and research was consolidated as members of CCSR embedded ethics into many of the modules being offered across the higher degree, degree and higher national diploma programmes. Sara Wilford and Richard Howley launched a privacy and data protection module which was timely as society in general became more aware of privacy issues following legislative implementations. In 2004, Bynum and Rogerson edited a ground-breaking textbook which became the standard computer ethics textbook for many degree modules across the world. Its reach was further extended in 2010 when it was translated into Chinese by Lun Li for Peking University Press (Bynum & Rogerson, 2004 & 2010).

A particularly challenging frontier for CCSR was Software Engineering. Understandably, the degree programme exhibited a highly technical focus but subsequently it was recognised there was a need for contextualisation. In part this was driven by the accreditation requirements of the BCS. In 1999, a new mandatory final year module was launched entitled Professional Context of Software Engineering. This module was later remodelled into one of the most innovative final year modules to be offered by CCSR. In 2007, Simon Rogerson teamed up with Tugrul Essendal from the Computer Science Department to design and deliver INFO 3042, Software Quality, Professionalism and Ethics. This cross-disciplinary module used blended and experiential learning approaches which provided students with a highly interactive experience (Essendal & Rogerson, 2011). It included formal debates, delivering a student-led research seminar, an ethics computer laboratory based on SoDIS project audit (see the Professional sphere section for details of SoDIS) and authoring a reflective diary of the subjects covered within the module. Rogerson and Essendal received a Research into Teaching Award (RITA) to undertake reflective experiential learning research to underpin the module.

[B] External teaching and awareness – As the computer ethics community grew, there were more opportunities and invitations to engage with other institutions across the world. For example, CCSR ran student master classes at Charles Sturt University, Australia (1998), Salford University, UK (2002), Auckland University, New Zealand (2005), Gdansk University of Technology, Poland (2009) and Rovira i Virgili University, Tarragona, Spain (2010). Institutional awareness seminars and workshops helped to promulgate computer ethics. In 2003, CCSR organised a 3-day computer ethics knowledge dissemination workshop at Prywatna Wyższa Szkoła Zawodowa, Giżycko, Poland funded by British Council. It was attended by representatives from many universities across the country. In 2007, computer ethics workshops for academic staff were held in China at Kunming and Ningbo.

[C] Research Ethics – From 1997, CCSR participated in the research student training programme of DMU by running the research ethics seminars. By 2007, the REST7040 Research Ethics module included much experiential learning through case study analysis. As the DMU’s research student population grew the Graduate School moved many of its training course to an on-demand basis. Consequently, in 2008 CCSR received HEFCE Roberts funding to develop a research ethics course using DMU’s VLE (virtual learning environment) platform. Students were able to complete the course at their convenience. Interactive case study facilities were embedded to ensure dialogue took place which enhanced the learning experience. 

Physical sphere

As mentioned in Figure 6, identity and culture are portrayed through explicit physical entities such as location and layout of accommodation. Barclay and York (2001) explore this in some depth, explaining that the physical sphere relates to organisational culture, power, and politics which, consequently, makes it a powerful tool for explaining and addressing these abstract concepts. It was important for CCSR to have a physical presence within the Faculty because it demonstrated that this new area of research and teaching was recognised as part of an evolving ICT offering. Furthermore, physical proximity of CCSR members helped to establish identity and promote teamwork.

[A] Office suites – In September 2000, a self-contained suite of six offices became vacant on the 6th floor of the James Went Building. Before this became common knowledge it was secured for CCSR by agreement of the Faculty Dean. A budget was secured to equip the suite. All members of CCSR  including the director, the research fellow, doctoral students, visiting scholars and the webmaster were all accommodated. The meeting room was furnished with an oval table to portray a culture of equality and joint decision making. 

The built environment underwent modernisation as DMU expanded. In 2003, the James Went Building was demolished to make way for the Hugh Aston Building. CCSR, along with other parts of the Faculty, were relocated to Gateway House. A new suite of offices on the 5th floor was secured for CCSR. Other adjacent staff rooms and doctoral study rooms were also allocated. CCSR now had a prominent physical presence, which would be further enhanced with the construction of the ISDP hotdesking suite in 2009 (see Institutional sphere below for further details). In the post-pandemic era it will be interesting to see how the physical sphere and the virtual sphere interrelate.

Virtual sphere

[A] CCSR website – In 1995 the Internet was in its infancy and just 0.4% of the world’s population accessed it. At the end of 1994 there were 2,738 websites. That had risen to 23,500 by the end of 1995 and to over 250,000 by the end of 1996. Today there are over 1.5 billion websites with over 500 new websites being created every minute throughout the world [7]. In October 1995 during the pioneering days of the Internet, CCSR launched its own website. The aim was to create a worldwide portal for ICT ethics. This aim was turned into a reality by Bert Logan, a colleague in the Department of Computer Science, and a computer science student Patrick Foster who was on a one year work placement. It became the world’s leading reference point in cyberspace receiving many thousands of hits each day, far out-performing the DMU website at the time. By the end of 1998 the website was regularly receiving 275,000 monthly visits. An analysis of activity undertaken in January 2005 revealed the site comprised over 1,600 content pages and over 2,500 hypertext links to other sources. The maximum number of hits in one month was 410,362. Access to the site was from over 125 countries. This level of activity was sustained until third parties started to provide information portals, access techniques evolved and social media become the default virtual interactive platform. Thus, the demand for an ICT ethics portal reduced and CCSR abandoned this role in 2010.

Political sphere

[A] UK – Rogerson was a member of PITCOM (the Parliamentary IT Committee) from 1993 to 2009. When CCSR was launched it was able, through this channel, to inform the UK Parliament and the UK Government of the ethical challenges surrounding ICT. CCSR responded to public consultation documents relating to ICT; the first being a response to the Government’s Green Paper on Identity Cards in October 1995. The Data Protection Registrar, Elizabeth France maintained contact with CCSR through invitations to participate in various events, for example, a closed seminar in 1996 to discuss data matching. At the recommendation of CCSR, Elizabeth France was awarded an honorary DSc by DMU in July 1996. In her annual report of 1996 she wrote, “One example of the recognition of data protections and privacy in the development of information technology has been the establishment of the Centre for Computing and Social Responsibility at De Montfort University.” Further early Parliamentary involvement included, in 1997, participation in the House of Lords Colloquia on the Ethical and Spiritual Implications of the new IT and Telecoms environment.

[B] Electronic votingIn 2001, Lawrence Pratchett of the DMU Business School led a major research commission from the UK government to investigate the implementation of electronic voting [8]. For DMU, this collaborative research was between the Business School and CCSR. Fairweather and Rogerson (2002) undertook a technology assessment and produced the influential Technical Options Report based upon a comprehensive analysis using SoDIS Project Auditor (see Industrial Sphere for details of SoDIS). This led to a modification of the Local Election pilots and subsequently led to the postponement of e-voting in the UK including the General Election. 

[C] European Union – CCSR’s involvement with the political sphere of the European Union was through the European Commission. This gradually increased. In 2005, Rogerson was one of a five-person commission which undertook the review of FP6 (the European Union’s Sixth Framework Programme for Research and Technological Development for the period 2002 to 2006) reporting its findings and recommendations to the European Commission. From 2005-2006, he led the development of the ethics guidelines for the ICT work programme of FP7 (European Union’s Research and Innovation. funding programme for 2007-2013), making it mandatory for all European Union funded ICT research to address explicitly the ethical issues surrounding prospective research activity. This was the first time that comprehensive ethical review was mandatory and was indicative of the growing awareness of the ethical dimension of ICT. 

Industrial sphere

[A] SoDIS – In February1996, Simon Rogerson and Professor Don Gotterbarn met for the first time at PASE’96: Professional Awareness in Software Engineering: First Westminster Conference where they were both presenting papers. They discovered a common concern about software failure and an associated lack of professionalism. The meeting led to Don, who was and continues to be one of the world leaders in ethics within the computing profession, becoming CCSR’s second Visiting Professor on 1 January 1997. In collaboration, Rogerson and Gotterbarn addressed the critical and common issue of software project failure. They demonstrated that limiting the focus of risk analysis to quantifiable factors and using a narrow understanding of the scope of a software project were major contributors to software failures. Their research led them to a new approach which embedded social risk assessment and resolution within systems development. They created the Software Development Impact Statement (SoDIS) process (Gotterbarn & Rogerson, 2005) and developed it into a software package (SoDIS Project Auditor, SPA) which greatly reduced the probability of software project failure. This research attracted academic and commercial collaborators in Australia, New Zealand, Poland, UK and US. For example, SPA was used to assess the risks associated with electronic voting. In 2009, Software Improvements Pty. Ltd. in Australia developed SPA into a commercial multi-platform product. The supporting materials for the software included a textbook which had the dedication, “To Don [Gotterbarn], Simon [Rogerson] and David [Gleeson], founding members of the Software Development Research Foundation, for their recognition of, and dedication to, all stakeholders.” (Boughton & Boughton, 2010)

[B] Awareness – CCSR is not simply an academic research centre; it offers advice and provides awareness to practitioners. Rogerson’s book Ethical aspects of information technology: Issues for senior executives, published in 1998 for the Institute of Business Ethics, was one of the first, and remains one the few, to address ethics of computing from a corporate perspective. Practitioner access to CCSR’s research was made possible through the ETHIcol column which appeared in every edition of the IMIS Journal from 1995 to 2012 (see further details of IMIS in Professional sphere section). Rogerson was often joined by members and associates of CCSR to cover current ethical and societal issues surrounding ICT.

Figure 8 The first survey in 1998 of the IMIS longitudinal study

Professional sphere

[A] IMIS – CCSR had a working relationship with IMIS (Institute for the Management of Information Systems formally known as IDPM) since 1995 when IMIS provided a sponsorship for ETHICOMP95. In 2000, Steve McRobb, a member of CCSR, led the development of IMIS’s new Code of Conduct for Computing Professionals. Between 1998 and 2010 IMIS provided £60K of funding to conduct a longitudinal study to explore the attitudes of information systems professionals. Six surveys were undertaken. Mary Prior, a member of CCSR led this research and was assisted by the CCSR webmasters. The study provided a unique snapshot as seen through an ethical lens. The ETHICOMP trademark was used for this study and so the first study was entitled Is IT Ethical? 1998 ETHICOMP Survey of Professional Practice (see Figure 8). In the Foreword, Ian Rickwood, IMIS Chief Executive, wrote, “By developing a better understanding we will be able to guide employers as to ways in which standards can be raised by setting and monitoring internal policy. This in turn, as the message of good ethical practice becomes more widespread, will ultimately set national standards (and international standards) for the profession.” 

[B] Codes of Ethics – CCSR has a history of helping professional bodies develop guidance for its membership. Gotterbarn led the executive team, of which Rogerson was a member, which developed the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) / IEEE Computer Society (IEEE-CS) Software Engineering Code of Ethics and Professional Practice. This was published in 1999 and subsequently translated into many languages including Chinese, Croatian, Arabic, French, German, Hebrew, Italian, Japanese and Spanish. CCSR proposed and led the redevelopment of the Code of Good Practice of BCS, The Chartered Institute of IT in 2004. CCSR was a major contributor to the Ethics Curriculum Map for the Royal Academy of Engineering in 2006. The map draws upon CCSR’s experience of delivering effective computer ethic education and it is still being used today. Most recently Gotterbarn led the rewriting of the ACM Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct which was published in 2018. Catherine Flick, a member of CCSR was a member of the task force and Rogerson acted as an independent reviewer. Both received Recognition of Service Awards for their contributions.

Institutional sphere

[A] Participation – Members of CCSR involve themselves in faculty and institutional activities. For example, they have served on the university research ethics committee and the faculty research committee. Since its formation, CCSR has upheld virtuous action thus promoting the positives and challenging the negatives. On many occasions it has put forward ways of sustaining social responsibility across all areas of the institution.

[B] Succession Planning and Future Proofing – Universities have been slow to react to the challenge of ensuring ongoing leadership which provides an organisation with a surplus of talent by helping members realize their  potential (Gonzalez, 2010). This has been the case at all levels including department and research unit level. Alongside this human resource issue is the formation of a strategic focus for research and teaching which will attract ongoing external funding and students, thus future proofing the institution. Chandler (2017) explains future proofing can be based on the precautionary principle or the procrastination principle or even the “to ask forgiveness, not permission” principle.

Throughout its existence CCSR has been aware of the need to address succession planning and future proofing. Members have been encouraged to explore new avenues and take on different roles. In February 2010, I arranged a confidential meeting with Adrian Hopgood, the Dean of the Faculty, to discuss leaving my fulltime post and stepping down as Director of CCSR. I suggested that I would step down at the end of September 2010 and hold a part-time position for three years thereafter to complete funded research and doctoral supervision. I suggested that Bernd Stahl should succeed me and that this would be announced in June to give time for the transition. Adrian agreed with my suggestion. In June I spoke with Bernd who accepted the plan and took over the following October. I became Professor Emeritus. I stayed away from the office for several weeks so that Bernd could assume his new position without any distraction. The following year at ETHICOMP 2011, Terry Bynum and I announced that ETHICOMP 2013 would be that last one we would lead and that the ETHICOMP community would now take on that role. Bernd oversaw that transition. These succession planning activities have proved successful. In parallel with this, future proofing has occurred as CCSR’s technological research focus has moved from ICT to emerging technologies.

[C] Information Society Doctoral Programme – By 2005 there were 14 doctoral students within CCSR. In March 2006, the Information Society Doctoral Programme (ISDP) was launched with Bernd Stahl being the ISDP coordinator. This strategy enabled CCSR to promote its unique research opportunities and attract further research students. Doctoral students increased that year to 20. ISDP aligned with the RAE strategy for computer science and encompassed research undertaken by all members of CCSR as shown in Figure 9.

Name Research Interests
Mohammed Begg IT/IS impacts on faith and culture, e-democracy, e-government, e-commerce
Terry Bynum Philosophical questions of computer ethics, history and teaching of computer ethics, computing and society
Ben Fairweather E-democracy, e-government, identity cards & databases, privacy & surveillance, environmental impacts of computing, computing and the military, ethics education, ethical aspects of computer games & children’s computing, censorship and free speech, hacktivism, codes of ethics, telework, disability, globalisation & language dominance, consequences of media audience fragmentation.  
Chris Fidler Decision support, management strategy, e-commerce, e-government
Don Gotterbarn Professionalism, codes of ethics, ethics in software engineering and systems development, social impact analysis
Richard Howley Privacy and data protection
Neil McBride IT Service Management, Culture and Information Systems, Theoretical Approaches to Information Systems, Application of biological concepts to information systems
Steve McRobb Privacy online, relationship of technology to culture, use / abuse of technology in organisations, ontological / epistemological issues
Ivor Perry The relationship between workflow management systems (WFMS) and organisational culture. The relationship between workflow management systems (WFMS) and Business Process Re-engineering (BPR). e-Process – where business benefit comes from harnessing web content to business processes. Joining the Front Office and the Back Office across the web
Mary Prior Electronic surveillance (particularly in the workplace); ethical attitudes of IS practitioners & students; impact of technology on social inequalities, including what post-colonial theory has to offer in this context.
Simon Rogerson Social impact of technology, e-democracy, e-government, identity cards & databases, privacy & surveillance, technology assessment, IT/IS strategy and project management, professionalism, e-learning
Bernd Carsten Stahl Philosophical questions in computing, including ontology and epistemology, privacy, intellectual property, critical research in IS


Figure 9 Research interests of members of CCSR [extract, ISDP pamphlet June 2006]

By June 2008, ISDP doctoral students had further increased to 27 and an impressive completion rate had been accomplished. Lack of suitable accommodation and computer equipment had become major obstacles. The innovative solution was to create a hot-desking suite. In the successful capital infrastructure funding bid, Rogerson and Stahl (2008) explained, “The immediate and most important benefit of the development is the removal of a physical resource barrier to allow ISDP growth in student numbers. However, there are several secondary benefits to be considered:

  • much improved environment for study 
  • facilitation of better communication among students 
  • contribution to knowledge sharing among the ISDP community
  • development of a shared research culture 
  • attractive modern study facilities as a strong marketing tool
  • more efficient use of University resources

… Research students are transient members of the university and therefore have less of a need to be allocated permanent locations. Initial discussions with our students indicate that they would welcome the introduction of hot-desking.” 

Research students participated in the final design and contributed to the establishing the ISDP Hot Desking Suited Charter as shown in Figure 10. This charter illustrated the well-established culture of social responsibility which characterises CCSR. The facility was opened in September 2009.

Figure 10 The ISDP Hot-desking Suite Charter

Funding sphere

Funding is a vital component in the ongoing success of a research centre. In the early days of CCSR funding through traditional competitive routes proved challenging. Alternative funding streams were sought through adopting an entrepreneurial approach. The primary aim initially was to fund CCSR members to travel to conferences and other institutions to build up a network of contacts which would support ongoing growth. Small funds were secured through, for example, sponsorship from the Institute of Data Processing Management (IDPM later to become IMIS), selling the ETHICOMP95 proceedings, via the internet, to university libraries across the world and sponsorship from Pitman Publishing. The agreement with hosting institutions for ETHICOMP included building into the budget the travel, subsistence and conference fee costs for Professor Rogerson plus two nominated delegates and Professor Bynum plus two nominated delegates. Internal discussions with the senior executive of DMU resulted in releasing some institutional funding for a research bursary and securing funding to employ a full time permanent research fellow in 1996. Two major breakthroughs occurred in securing competitive research funding: firstly, from ESRC in 1999 and secondly, from EU-FP7 in 2009. The latter paved the way to future ongoing success in major research funding.

[A] ESRCProfessor Rogerson led the “Advances in Social Responsibility in the Information Age” programme which was funded by the Economic and Social Research Council [9] with further sponsorship by The Post Office. This was the first ESRC grant awarded within the Faculty. The overall goal of the project was to realise a self-sustaining UK research community concerning the social and ethical impact of information and communication technologies application. Six interactive seminars were held at De Montfort University (three seminars), Leeds University, Middlesex University and Southampton University. Participants came from industry, central and local government and academia. Six themes were debated and the overall outcomes were published in an end of project report in June 2000 (Fairweather & Rogerson, 2001).

[B] ETICAThe EU-funded ETICA research project [10], as depicted in Figure 11, identified ethical issues of emerging ICT applications. CCSR was the lead body in the project with Bernd Stahl being the project leader having conceived the original idea and developed the successful grant proposal. The project highlighted 11 ethically-charged emerging technologies which were: Affective computing, Ambient intelligence, Artificial intelligence, Bioelectronics, Cloud computing, Future internet, Human/machine symbiosis, Neuroelectronics, Quantum computing, Robotics and Virtual/Augmented Reality. These technologies were evaluated and ranked which led to identifying ways of implementing governance that would be conducive to addressing the ethics of emerging ICTs.


Figure 11 Schematic of ETICA


[C] PHM-Ethics – The EU-funded PHM-Ethics research project [11], as depicted in Figure 12, conducted scientific interdisciplinary research to analyse the dependencies between ethics, law and psychosocial sciences in personalised health monitoring in relation to the major types and steps of this very dynamic part of IT-development from a European perspective. An integrated European approach to the combined regulation of ethical, philosophical, legal and psychosocial constraints was developed. CCSR led one of the major work packages which resulted in a methodology which can be used modularly for the assessment of various aspects regarding impact and features and impact of PHM technologies.



Figure 12 Schematic of PHM-Ethics 

International sphere

[A] ETHICOMP – As previously mentioned, the ETHICOMP conference series was launched in 1995. The purpose of this series is to provide an inclusive forum for discussing the ethical and social issues associated with the development and application of Information and Communication Technology (ICT). ETHICOMP 2021 will be the 19th conference. There have also been four ETHICOMP working conferences. ETHICOMP was conceived as a European-based conference series designed to bring together those from around the world who interested in the ethical and social issues surrounding ICT. After the first decade it was decided that we should occasionally reach out beyond Europe and hold events in countries where no computer ethics fora existed or where there had been little engagement with the ETHICOMP community. It is for this reason that ETHICOMP was held in Japan and ETHICOMP Working conference events have been held in China and Argentina. The conference series was founded on some core principles:

  • ETHICOMP is a broad based conference series which address the social and ethical perspectives of ICT and converging technologies.
  • It is inclusive providing a forum for those with diverse opinions to share and debate issues in a collegiate atmosphere. Dialogue is fundamental.
  • It is multidisciplinary. This means that both single discipline and multidiscipline papers are presented at the conferences. The community is receptive of these differing perspectives.
  • It is culturally diverse. Delegates have come from all continents and presented papers from many cultural perspectives.
  • It is supportive of academic growth. New scholars/researchers are encouraged to present papers, all of which are within the main programme rather than in a separate stream. This promotes inclusivity and collegiality. 

There had been several approaches during the early years in an attempt to influence ETHICOMP by third parties with their own agendas. This appeared to be because, as the community started to grow in size and impact, others saw the potential of this community. In order to protect the ETHICOMP community and what it stood for, ETHICOMP was registered as a trademark of De Montfort University, which means that DMU has to authorise usage of the name ETHICOMP and, as such, CCSR has in practice a safeguarding role for the community.

The conference series has fostered much international collaboration and resulted in exciting new ideas being presented at ETHICOMP by newly formed author partnerships. Indeed, the series has been instrumental in creating a truly international critical mass of scholars concerned with the ethical and social issues of ICT. Within Europe many academics from within the ETHICOMP community have been, and continue to be, involved in collaborative research funded by national research agencies as well as the European Union’s Framework programmes. Worldwide there is a similar picture of funded collaborative research for within the ETHICOMP community.

[B] International Visitors – During the early years of CCSR, several visiting professors were in residence for extended periods. These included Professor Terry Bynum (US), Professor Don Gotterbarn (US), Professor Chuck Huff (US), Professor Jean Camp (US), Professor Kiyoshi Murata (Japan) and Professor John Weckert (Australia). These scholars helped to forge CCSR’s reputation. The relationship with these professors and other visitors was sustained through the creation of the honorary role of International Research Associate. This role still exists [12]

[C] Australian Institute of Computer Ethics (AiCE) – In February 1998, Australian scholars John Weckert and Chris Simpson launched the Australian Institute of Computer Ethics with assistance from Bynum and Rogerson who ran three seminars at Charles Sturt University and Swinburne University of Technology as part of the launch. In 1999, AiCE held its first conference AICE99 in Melbourne, with Professors Gotterbarn and Rogerson as two of the four keynote speakers.

The Future

CCSR exhibits the classic s-shaped growth curve from initiation through contagion through control to maturity, as described by, for example, Gibson and Nolan (1974) and Galliers and Sutherland (1991). Activity within particular spheres of the presence typology appears more important in some stages of growth than others. From the analysis undertaken five organisational characteristics appear paramount to the ongoing success of CCSR: 

  • Uniqueness – When CCSR was launched it was unique. Other players have since emerged over the 25 year period to challenge this unique status.
  • Visibility – Short term visibility is achieved through research success and associated media coverage. Long term visibility is achieved through quality service and facility provision such as a house journal, an ongoing conference series and a web portal.
  • Brand – CCSR is an established brand of quality research and teaching. Much of its quality image lies within the accomplishments of the members of CCSR.
  • Reputation – In the ethically-charged field within which CCSR operates reputation is built upon equality of opportunity, inclusivity, challenging social injustice and making a societal difference.
  • Track Record – In the highly competitive world of academic research, assessment continues to be dominated by the quantitative metrics of academic publications, research grants and doctoral completions. This often, albeit problematically, defines the track record.

This paper has tracked the growth of CCSR to the point where Professor Bernd Stahl took over the directorship of CCSR on 1 October 2010 and at this point CCSR had reached maturity. Shortly after Bernd became director, DMU launched a new initiative, your challenges + our expertise = innovative solutions, in which CCSR participated. The CCSR brochure stated, “Taking an interdisciplinary approach the Centre for Computing and Social Responsibility has gained an impressive reputation as a key player in the international research network for the ethical and social implications of ICT.” The genesis of CCSR was summarised in the brochure as shown in Figure 13.

Figure 13 CCSR’s participation in the DMU innovation initiative

What has happened since 1 October 2010 is beyond the scope of this paper and is for others to analyse and report upon. It is, however, appropriate to contextualise historically the present and future. I began this paper with reference to UK Government action in 1982 to address national IT expertise shortages and later action in 1992 to address the higher education binary divide. On 28 January 2021, Bernd sent out an email announcing a new successful grant application; EMBRACE (EMBedding Responsible Research And Innovation in Future and Emerging TeChnologiEs). He wrote, “We will use the funding to explore possible marketable products and services that arise from the work in our largest project, the Huma Brain Project. Where a market is identified, we will deliver services via ORBIT, the spin-out company jointly owned by DMU and Oxford. The project should thus help us with the exploitation of our research results as well as the further development of our commercial work and ensuring the viability of ORBIT.” Thus, the binary divide is bridged, technological expertise enhanced and socially acceptable technology is more likely by design rather than by accident.

In 2015, I suggested that it was time to reconsider in a collective manner how we should address digital technology evolution and  society’s increasing dependency on this technology. I wrote, “The aim of Future Vision is to regenerate the relationships across the wider community so that ICT will be developed and utilised in an ethical and socially acceptable manner. It is not simply an academic initiative but a whole-world initiative which will lead to an improvement in practice. I and my generation are not the ones to drive this through. Future Vision is in the hands of the millennials.” (Rogerson, 2015, p358). 

I have recently completed a book entitled The Evolving Landscape of Ethical Digital Technology. In the concluding chapter I write, “The changing digital technology landscape has meant that the world has changed. In May 2020, Mobile App Daily published its 2020 technology trend forecast. It demonstrates the world is now digitised through, for example, 5G, clouds, AI, algorithms, augmentation, machine autonomy, data analytics, edge computing and the Internet of Things. This digitisation of everything requires a greater emphasis on, what we should now call, digital ethics. If not, then a very bleak, discriminatory world beckons. It would be a world of privileged digital natives and an underclass of digital outcasts, a world of danger, domination and despair. …  There is a need to develop a new vision for digital ethics which is theoretically grounded but pragmatic. It must exhibit phronesis and praxis, so that industry and government will engage, accept and embrace this as a modus operandi.” (Rogerson, 2021) Without doubt CCSR will evolve as future members take up the leadership mantle in challenging questionable digital technology and championing acceptable and accessible digital technology for everyone.


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About the author

Simon Rogerson became Europe’s first Professor in Computer Ethics in 1998 and in 2010 became lifetime Professor Emeritus in Computer Ethics at De Montfort University, UK. His early career was in industry as a technical software developer. He was the founding Director of the Centre for Computing and Social Responsibility (CCSR), launching it in 1995 at the first ETHICOMP conference which he conceived and co-directed the series until 2013. He was the founder and is the current editor of the Journal of Information, Communication and Ethics in Society. He sits on several international ICT-related advisory boards and has served on governing bodies in education and ICT. For his leadership and research achievements in the computer and information ethics interdisciplinary field he was awarded the fifth IFIP-WG9.2 Namur Award in 2000 and the ACM SIGCAS Making a Difference Award in 2005.

For further details see:


  1. RAE 2001, De Montfort University submission to Unit of Assessment 61 Library and Information Management. Accessed 15 Feb 2021 at:
  2. RAE 2008, De Montfort University submission to Unit of Assessment 23 – Computer Science and Informatics. Accessed 15 Feb 2021 at:
  7. accessed 16 Feb 2021
  8. LGR 65/12/72, £90000, Sept 2001-May 2002
  9. R451 26 4624 97, £16000, 1999-2000
  10. EU FP7-SCIENCE IN-SOCIETY-2008-1, grant agreement 230318, €900,000, 2009-2011
  11. EU FP7-SCIENCE IN-SOCIETY-2008-1, grant agreement 230602, €1000,000, 2009-2012
  12. Accessed 16 Feb 2021