Universities Have a Computer-Science Problem

Universities Have a Computer-Science Problem (msn.com)



from the closer-look dept.

theodp writes: “Last year,” Ian Bogost writes in Universities Have a Computer-Science Problem, “18 percent of Stanford University seniors graduated with a degree in computer science, more than double the proportion of just a decade earlier. Over the same period at MIT, that rate went up from 23 percent to 42 percent. These increases are common everywhere: The average number of undergraduate CS majors at universities in the U.S. and Canada tripled in the decade after 2005, and it keeps growing. Students’ interest in CS is intellectual — culture moves through computation these days — but it is also professional. Young people hope to access the wealth, power, and influence of the technology sector. That ambition has created both enormous administrative strain and a competition for prestige.”

“Another approach has gained in popularity,” Bogost notes. “Universities are consolidating the formal study of CS into a new administrative structure: the college of computing. […] When they elevate computing to the status of a college, with departments and a budget, they are declaring it a higher-order domain of knowledge and practice, akin to law or engineering. That decision will inform a fundamental question: whether computing ought to be seen as a superfield that lords over all others, or just a servant of other domains, subordinated to their interests and control. This is, by no happenstance, also the basic question about computing in our society writ large.”

Bogost concludes: “I used to think computing education might be stuck in a nesting-doll version of the engineer’s fallacy, in which CS departments have been asked to train more software engineers without considering whether more software engineers are really what the world needs. Now I worry that they have a bigger problem to address: how to make computer people care about everything else as much as they care about computers.

The earth is like a tiny grain of sand, only much, much heavier.


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