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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