I think that all three of these are great ideas. Since it sounds like one productive next step would be to brainstorm what some of the BoFs or sub-areas of interest would be, I thought I'd share the ones that I can think of that have come out of the conversations so far and Grant's survey:
* Faculty hiring, as you note - this possibly also ties into faculty review after hiring…
* Enrollment pressures - like faculty hiring, liberal arts institutions seem to have different challenges when responding to enrollment pressures; I also thought it was interesting that 40% of the schools surveyed do NOT report a current growth in enrollment which seems higher than the general trend
* Communicating about CS in the liberal arts - to faculty at our institutions, to faculty at other institutions, to our students, (to employers?) - this sounds like a theme and/or goal of the special session - a subtheme here might be continuing to refine our description of the scope/definition of "liberal arts computer science"
* Curricular structures - BA or BS, ABET, amount of math, pairing CS curricula with institutional requirements/limitations (e.g number of courses in a major, but also supportable by limited staffing) - the survey provides some great data to feed this conversation
* Curricular inclusion of soft skills and interdisciplinary connections - these topics seemed to come up in many responses to the open ended questions at the end of Grant's survey and conversations might be a good way to get more information about the variety of ways these are happening and share good ideas/resources (a lot of the comments related to capstones)
If you could use another person to help put together the special session proposal or coordinate it, I'm happy to help out. I'm also currently most personally engaged in the last of the four possible topics I listed above so if it seems like there is enough interest in the soft skills/interdisciplinary content piece for a BoF I'd be happy to put together a proposal and coordinate that.
Dr. Amanda M. Holland-Minkley
Associate Professor, Computing and Information Studies
Washington & Jefferson College
From: SIGCSE-LIBARTS-COMM [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Douglas Baldwin
Sent: Wednesday, August 10, 2016 8:50 AM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Liberal Arts Committee SIGCSE Plans
Hello, SIGCSE liberal arts committee. I hope you've been having good summers, in whatever form they've taken.
Following Grant Braught's survey earlier this summer, he and I have been having some conversations, as have Henry, Alyce, Andrea, and I. Some ideas about things this committee could or should do around SIGCSE 2017 have come out of those conversations, and I want to see what you all think of them.
First, Grant's survey produced an interesting glimpse of the state of computing programs in liberal arts institutions, but had limited responses to questions that tried to identify strengths, challenges, issues, etc. of those programs. A larger survey (e.g., aimed at the whole SIGCSE membership) focusing on those questions and deliberately seeking input on how people outside the liberal arts community see liberal arts CS programs as well as on how those inside the community see them, might be a good follow-up. There was also a thought that face-to-face ways of getting views on these things could be a good supplement to a survey. So SIGCSE item 1 could be....
- A special session that is partly a report on what we've done so far (e.g., Grant's survey), and partly a guided discussion of the questions suggested above. I expect most of the time in this session could be spent on the latter.
There's also a sense that some specific issues of interest to liberal arts CS are emerging, e.g., faculty hiring. These could eventually be things that we focus on, either as a whole or through subcommittees. A way to start talking about these focused issues might be to organize one or more BoFs on specific topics of interest to liberal arts CS programs. Or, should subcommittees form before SIGCSE, BoFs could be a way for those subcommittees to get together face-to-face while talking to people outside of themselves. Either way, item 2 might be...
- BoF(s) on topics of specific interest to liberal arts CS education.
And finally, there was a very nice suggestion (thanks, Henry) that SIGCSE would be a good time for fairly small groups of us to get together over dinner. Again, the groups might be organized around sub-area interests; there could also be lunch groups as well as dinner groups. Since this is an easy thing to do and can be organized through the mailing list as SIGCSE gets closer, item 3 will probably be...
- Facilitate groups from the committee with shared interests within liberal arts CS education to get together for dinner or lunch.
The first round of deadlines (in particular, for special session proposals) is about 2 1/2 weeks away, so if you have any comments on these ideas this is a good time to share them. If anyone is interested in helping organize any of the above (or something else), please let us know that, too. (I'm happy to take the lead on a special session proposal, but would welcome people who want to help run the session and be listed as co-leaders on the proposal.)
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