In September 2020, the Dean’s Office of the College of Literature, Science and the Arts launched a faculty Computing Education Task Force (CETF) charged with imagining a program that would enable all LSA students to leverage computing within a digital world for the good of society and science.
This group worked for a year to evaluate the state of computing education in LSA, identify unmet needs, and imagine possible futures. With members drawn from across the divisions of the college, and led by co-chairs Gus Evrard and Mark Guzdial, the CETF interpreted ‘computing education’ broadly, spanning a spectrum from digital studies in the humanities to computational discovery in the natural sciences. Their essential conclusion is that all LSA students need some form of computing education.
Their report, which we are excited to release today, lays out an inspiring vision for how LSA should think about our student’s diverse needs for education in computation and the digital. The report identifies three key themes for digital education in the liberal arts:
- Computing for Discovery: Computing for Discovery applies model thinking and statistical techniques to interpret data of all forms. While most familiar in the natural and social sciences, computing for discovery supports scholarly advances in every discipline.
- Computing for Expression: Computing for Expression uses computational methods to support human interaction of many kinds, from new forms of publication and media to games and scientific visualizations. These new forms of digital expression are essential to everyday life, to society, and to all three divisions of the college.
- Computing for Justice: Computing for Justice uses multiple modalities to explore and critique the impact of social media and other information technologies on society and the human condition. While grounded in the humanities and social sciences, critical computing must be a part of every discipline.
To ensure that all LSA students receive appropriate and relevant training across these themes of computation and the digital, the CETF asks us to work together as a college and pursue a broad, coordinated vision. Their report concludes that doing so will require the creation of new course offerings and degree credentials, across the digital-to-computational spectrum.
To coordinate this effort, we are asking a team led by Professor Mark Guzdial to propose a design for a Program in Computation for the Arts and Science (PCAS – a provisional name) by the Summer 2022. We are planning for this group to launch several new introductory courses by Fall 2022, and we expect them to draw on the design experience of other successful interdisciplinary programs within the college. The PCAS should:
- Provide a key starting point for LSA students seeking computing and digital education, and a focal point for conversations on the topic across the college
- Seed and cultivate a broad, coordinated vision for computational and digital education in the liberal arts, to be implemented across LSA
- Collaborate with LSA departments to develop new course offerings, minors, and majors around three broad themes of computation for discovery, expression, and justice
- Support these new degree pathways with appropriate broad and inclusive introductory courses
- Coordinate LSA’s collaboration with other schools and colleges providing course offerings, minors, and majors related to computation and the digital
Professor Guzdial and his colleagues will attend the January 20th LSA Leadership meeting to present some highlights of the Computing Education Task Force report and engage in discussion about next steps. In the meantime, you can contact him with comments or questions at email@example.com.
Many thanks to the whole Computing Education Task Force team for taking on this work, and for starting us down this exciting new path.
Anne Curzan and Tim McKay