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Sender: SIGCSE-LIBARTS-COMM <[log in to unmask]>
Date: Thu, 17 Mar 2016 09:04:35 -0400
Reply-To: Douglas Baldwin <[log in to unmask]>
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From: Douglas Baldwin <[log in to unmask]>
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There was some really good discussion about what "liberal arts" means that
now seems to have died down, so I'll try to summarize:

One key idea was that a liberal arts education has broad goals, i.e., it's
for a career but also for membership in community, civic life, etc. Another
take on breadth, from the perspective of curricula or student experiences,
is that a liberal arts program provides room for second majors, minors, and
interdisciplinary interests. Within computing programs, breadth is
reflected in early exposure to the variety of computing topics and
cross-disciplinary connections. What makes something a "liberal arts"
program is that it's goals reflect such desires for breadth; "liberal arts"
is *not* defined by size of institution or where a program is housed within
an institution. All in all, this definition is very close to the one
offered in the committee goals and focus statement.

So it looks to me like we're pretty comfortable with the idea that the
sorts of computing programs we'll focus on are ones that have a central
goal of broad education. On lifelong timescales, this means preparing
students for their community/civic roles and personal well-being as well as
for careers; on course-of-study timescales, this means breadth of computing
and its applications, and opportunities for study outside of computing per
se. Is this indeed a notion of "liberal arts" that we're willing to use
going forward?

(PS. I also thought it was neat how many of the foregoing liberal arts
values appeared in Villanova's College of Engineering mission statement
Boots quoted. I sometimes have this heretical idea that there really could
be such a thing as a liberal arts engineering program if someone wanted it.)


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