I agree with Angela that we have good evidence that there is demand within the liberal arts computing community for a networking/support group focused on the unique challenges and solutions of the group. We have a good list of the contributions the group might make as summarized in Doug's slides and elaborated on in the report he put together after SIGCSE.


I've been mulling over the bit of this we're clearly struggling with more - making the case for why liberal arts computing needs a voice. I like the idea of structuring this as who the audience is. As a start, I wonder if we could break this down into having a voice to the general public and having a voice as a distinct component of the CS education community.


* General Public: A voice to employers, students, parents - both directly and through the media (there are so many articles on companies hiring liberal arts majors and companies wanting more STEM majors but I've never seen one on liberal-arts STEM majors…); I think a lot of us do this work individually at our own institutions but it would be nice to pool resources.


* Academic Community: A voice to ACM, SIGCSE, funding agencies, policy makers - groups involved in supporting or guiding CS education in some way


Looking at it this way, the voice to the general public is probably informative, mostly focusing on unique goals/objectives/successes of liberal arts CS, whereas the voice to the CS education community is probably representative or advocacy, focusing more evenly on the challenges and needs as well.


My sense is that the LACS group and sometimes other individuals have been playing the role of voice to the second community (I think this was maybe even mentioned in the document establishing this committee). The first is perhaps a stretch goal if the group really takes off and has the leadership to do it, but my sense from the various sessions at SIGCSE in the spring is that there's interest in trying to organize this type of more coordinated communication.


- Amanda


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 Angela Berardinelli
Sent: Thursday, July 20, 2017 6:00 PM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: SIGCSE Liberal Arts Committee at LACS


Hi, all,


I guess I'll jump in here, mostly with a question.


I think we already have a strong case for the need for a permanent organization, and that case will likely be made stronger by the second, larger survey that has been suggested.  In my opinion, this organization would ideally serve two purposes: networking within the liberal arts computing community, and providing leadership that could be our "voice" to others (others = non-liberal-arts computing + non-computing liberal arts + other others).  Perhaps thinking about our intended audience will help us clarify our "voice."  I think it's natural that it would sometimes be directed at the broader SIGCSE and ACM communities.  It would also be useful for the new organization to put together cohesive information/data about liberal arts computing that could be presented to college/university administrators at our institutions to put what we do and what we need in context when issues or opportunities arise.


So... in response to Doug's question: Why do we need a voice?  Because we have unique qualities that sometimes need to be communicated to parties outside the community.  Identifying those parties could go a long way toward helping us think about what the "voice" should be saying and why.  Where/ to whom would it make sense to communicate our unique successes, challenges, needs, goals, etc? 




Angela Berardinelli, PhD
Assistant Professor of Mathematics
Department of Mathematics and Information Technology
Mercyhurst University
E-mail:       [log in to unmask]
Direct Line:  814-824-2421
Website:      math.mercyhurst.edu/~aberardine
Office:       Old Main Tower 403
Mail:         501 East 38th Street
              Erie, PA 16546



On Mon, Jul 17, 2017 at 11:13 AM Douglas Baldwin <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

The liberal arts computer science consortium (LACS) had its summer meeting last week, and asked me to give a report on our committee's progress. The format was short report followed by discussion. For those interested, I've attached my slides from the "short report" part; you can also get them from Google drive at


The discussion suggested that LACS is very supportive of this committee spinning off a larger permanent group of liberal arts computing educators, which group would probably have many LACS members in it.


Also, two things occurred to me as I was making these slides: first, apart from the two slides inviting discussion (or maybe even with something like them), they might suggest a structure for our eventual report. Second, the place where I think we need the most additional data or support for that report is the question of whether liberal arts computing needs an institutional "voice" -- we probably think it does, but I haven't seen much discussion of that question, and particularly of why it does. Maybe something to talk about now...