CU now has a 2nd computer science degree program

November 16, 2012 at 8:30 am 8 comments

Thanks to Mark Miller for sending this — what a great idea!  I know that others have a BA in CS, but I particularly like the argument that they’re making, that this is about incorporating computing into other disciplines.  And I saw on Leysia Palen’s Facebook posting that the new degree was approved.

The proposed program would offer a bachelor of arts in computer science to suit students who, for example, are majoring in geography but want the skill set to develop map databases or who are studying speech, language and hearing and could benefit from building voice-recognition software.

If approved, arts and sciences students would be able to double-major to combine a liberal arts degree program with the BA degree in computer science. The computer science curriculum would still be taught by engineering faculty members.

via CU regents to consider 2nd computer science degree program – Boulder Daily Camera.

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8 Comments Add your own

  • 1. alanone1  |  November 16, 2012 at 8:40 am

    Yes, this seems like a great idea!

    Now they need to find professors who have enough background in the liberal arts, and what this is supposed to mean, to provide the depth needed to make this real rather than a gesture.

    Cheers,

    Alan

    Reply
  • 2. gasstationwithoutpumps  |  November 16, 2012 at 10:45 am

    Hardly novel. UCSC has had both BA and BS programs in CS for at least 26 years. The BA program has been a lighter-weight program intended for double majors, though it is often just taken by weaker students who don’t think that they can manage the BS.

    Reply
    • 3. Mark Guzdial  |  November 16, 2012 at 11:21 am

      I agree that a BA in CS is not novel. In schools where I’ve studied that had the BA, it was (as you describe) the path to CS for weaker students. What’s novel at CU is the framing: BA in CS as a way of adding computing into your other strengths, to do computing plus something else. That’s a “Computing for Everyone” kind of framing that I find exciting.

      Reply
      • 4. alanone1  |  November 16, 2012 at 11:27 am

        Which is pretty funny (or dismal) when one recalls that a BA in (pure) math in the liberal arts college is generally much more difficult than a BS in applied math over in engineering.

        Or at least it was in the 60s.

        I think the issues (confusions) here are similar to a BA in English vs learning “advanced English” to be part of other disciplines. They really aren’t the same thing, and used to be distinct (again in the 60s if not today). Back then, a BA in English was quite challenging and required quite a bit of work.

        Cheers,

        Alan

        Reply
        • 5. gasstationwithoutpumps  |  November 16, 2012 at 8:11 pm

          Most of the math departments I know offer a BS in math, not a BA. Those that offer both generally require more courses for the BS. (Disclaimer: I have a BS in math from 1974.)

          Reply
      • 6. gasstationwithoutpumps  |  November 16, 2012 at 8:08 pm

        UCSC framed the BA that way also, but that didn’t prevent students from quickly see it as CS-lite. The students who wanted to add CS to other strengths generally took a CS minor instead.

        Reply
  • 7. Mark Miller  |  November 17, 2012 at 5:51 pm

    What gave me some hope with this announcement is that for one, this is a double major, which I take to mean a full liberal arts curriculum, plus a full CS curriculum, not a CS minor. So I don’t take this as a path for weak CS students. The second thing that caught my attention was this quote:

    “The proposed program would offer a bachelor of arts in computer science to suit students who, for example, are … studying speech, language and hearing and could benefit from building voice-recognition software.”

    This sounds like a great idea for a combination, merging the study of the phenomenon with the ability to model an aspect of it (processing auditory information) with computing, leading to a deep understanding of the subject.

    Palen’s comments kind of deflated that hope:

    “The new degree was proposed because the demand for computer-science skills in the U.S. labor market far outstrips the supply …

    High-tech companies responding to Anderson’s request for feedback on the new computer-science program were enthusiastic.

    ‘Computer scientists are to the 21st century what manufacturing line workers were to the 20th—the production engine of the most significant advances in productivity,’ wrote Tim Enwall.”

    This makes it sound like the goal was to attract more students into becoming software developers solely to satisfy workforce requirements. I understand that this is an imperative in our society, however, I think we as a society cheat students out what a great education can really bring them if universities make this the end goal. Yes, people deserve a chance to have a career and make a great life for themselves, and employers need workers, but what about cultivating better human beings and better citizens? I used to hear this saying a lot, but I haven’t heard it enough lately: “Man does not live by bread alone.” I think if the latter is pursued with some vigor that both the students and society will benefit more than just having people earn a better paycheck. I’d like to think that employers would benefit from this as well. It doesn’t have to be an either/or, zero-sum analysis.

    Reply
    • 8. Stewart cole  |  December 18, 2012 at 4:37 am

      Agreed with you mark,specially the society part was exactly to, the point, i feel there is nothing to cheat the student in terms of carrier instead can provide a better chance and opportunity.

      Reply

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