Here is the definition from our College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
(CLAS): CLAS is designed to foster critical thinking, inspire creative
solutions for a challenging and changing world and prepare you for a
We have 39 majors in our CLAS, as well as an option to define your own
major. There are also some concentrations and minors (cognitive science,
peace and justice, Irish studies, writing and rhetoric, for instance).
L N Cassel, Ph.D.
Professor and Chair
Department of Computing Sciences
800 Lancaster Avenue
Villanova PA 19085-1699
610 519 7341
On Mon, Mar 14, 2016 at 1:08 PM, Janet Davis <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> Doug, thanks for giving us a charge! Let me try to kick things off on item
> (1) by asking a question.
> I like the temporary definition of "liberal arts" in the committee's goals
> and focus statement. However, I am at an institution that is formally
> classified as a liberal arts college, fits the definition well, and has all
> of the suggested "highlights."
> Are there list members for whom the temporary definition is not a good fit
> to your institutional context? In what ways? How might the definition be
> written to include you?
> Douglas Baldwin wrote:
> Greetings, and welcome (if you haven't already been welcomed) to the
> SIGCSE committee on computing education in liberal arts colleges.
> Thanks to everyone who came to our gathering at SIGCSE. I was
> pleasantly surprised at how big that was (35 - 40 people), and at the
> enthusiasm the folks there showed for the committee's job. Alyce Brady
> took some good notes on the conversation, which are the basis for this
> Much of the conversation was about what the committee might do, and
> another theme that kept popping up was the question of just what we
> will mean by the phrase "liberal arts." These are basically the first
> two things we need to work on in any case, so the first thing I want
> to do is set the following agenda for the next couple of months.
> Please consider yourselves charged to use this mailing list to discuss
> your ideas about the following 2 items:
> 1. What we mean by "liberal arts." There is temporary definition in
> the committee's goals and focus statement
> (http://sigcse.org/sigcse/programs/committees/liberal), roughly
> "liberal arts college" as a place that emphasizes liberal education --
> in the words of the goals and focus, "a post-secondary institution
> that emphasizes education for the breadth of graduates' career, civic,
> and personal lives, in contrast to institutions that focus on more
> narrow preparation (e.g., for a specific profession)." But this is
> only one of many definitions bouncing around. Another I've seen boils
> down to a college that emphasizes disciplines in the arts, humanities,
> and sciences over disciplines in more professional areas, and another
> amounts to colleges that fit an institutional profile of being small,
> undergraduate, and (usually) private. We absolutely do *not* have to
> use the definition from the goals and focus statement. There's a lot
> of overlap between definitions and their implications, but there are
> also enough differences that if we don't adopt some statement of what
> we will mean by the term, we're likely to find ourselves talking past
> each other as we get down to the real work.
> 2. We also need to identify a set of issues that we will concentrate
> on. Again, the goals and focus statement mentions two, but a lot of
> others came up in conversation at SIGCSE. If we have a manageable set
> of these in place by, say, mid-June (not at all accidentally, a date
> that most of us in the US can equate to "about when my
> semester/quarter ends," whichever kind of calendar you use, and that I
> hope any non-US participants can equate to some similar calendar
> milestone) we can use the summer to start gathering whatever data we
> need to shape answers. The questions from the goals and focus
> statement are
> - Is there a need for an organization that can be the "voice" of
> liberal arts colleges in larger discussions of computing education? If
> so, how might such an organization be set up, and what can this
> committee do to "pass the torch" to it?
> - Is there a need for a network that allows computing faculty at
> liberal arts colleges to share struggles, ideas, questions, etc. with
> each other?
> Some things that were mentioned at SIGCSE, include
> - Should there be a larger set of "exemplar" courses and curricula for
> liberal arts, as with ACM/IEEE CS2013, but perhaps only partially tied
> to it? Maybe not as formal as the CS2013 exemplars, simply a table of
> what courses/subjects different schools include. Even identifying the
> titles used for programs and courses would be helpful.
> - Should there be a survey of issues facing liberal arts computing
> that departments can use in discussions with administrations? In
> particular, what are liberal arts computing programs seeing with
> enrollments today?
> - In connection with such a survey, do we even know who the "liberal
> arts computing" people are? Should we try to systematically identify them?
> - Should there be a liberal arts analog of ABET to "accredit" liberal
> arts computing programs (this was explicitly identified as an
> out-of-the-box, thinking-at-the-limits, question by the person who
> posed it)
> - How do we communicate the advantages of teaching computing in the
> liberal arts to others? For instance, to graduate students who might
> be potential faculty? To potential students for our own programs?
> - Are there things that could be done to help liberal arts schools
> trying to start computing programs?
> And finally, moving on from immediate actions, a few other notes from
> the SIGCSE gathering: Most important, this is supposed to be a very
> inclusive committee. Regardless of what definition of "liberal arts"
> we end up with, anyone who is interested in that kind of computing
> education is welcome to participate. As of SIGCSE, we had about 80
> people subscribed to the mailing list, and more have joined since --
> my guess is that we're at 90 or 95 now. We should try to get all of us
> wearing "ask me about liberal arts computing" ribbons at the next
> SIGCSE. Speaking of next SIGCSE, it would be nice for us to have some
> preliminary report that can be delivered at a special session or
> similar. This would be based on discussions this spring and data
> gathered over the summer. A final version can include feedback from
> SIGCSE 2017 and might appear as a report in Inroads or similar later
> in the year.
> Thanks again for joining the committee. Let the conversation begin!
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