Boots, thanks!

That seems like a very inclusive definition of the liberal arts. By way of contrast, how does your of Engineering define itself?

My Whitman colleagues would like the focus on critical thinking, but some would bristle at the notion of "prepar[ing] for a fulfilling career" without also mentioning civic life.


Lillian (Boots) Cassel wrote:

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
fulfilling career.
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


L N Cassel, Ph.D.
Professor and Chair
Department of Computing Sciences
Villanova University
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]
<mailto:[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
    enthusiasm the folks there showed for the committee's job. Alyce
    took some good notes on the conversation, which are the basis for

    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
    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
    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
    (, 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,
    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
    down to a college that emphasizes disciplines in the arts,
    and sciences over disciplines in more professional areas, and
    amounts to colleges that fit an institutional profile of being
    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
    we will mean by the term, we're likely to find ourselves talking
    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
    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.
    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
    to it? Maybe not as formal as the CS2013 exemplars, simply a
    table of
    what courses/subjects different schools include. Even identifying
    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"
    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
    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
    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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