Computer Science and the Liberal Arts: Hidden Synergies and Boundless Opportunities



A growing body of evidence supports the contention that many students will benefit from coursework in computer science regardless of their respective academic majors. While there are distinct advantages to learning computer science for students in the quantitative and analytical fields (i.e., Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math or STEM disciplines), the tangible benefits for students in non-STEM areas are less clear. To investigate the influence of computer science methods on students in the liberal arts, we convened a workshop of faculty equally distributed from computer science and various liberal arts disciplines. We also included two career placement professionals, one from a small college and another from a larger technical university. By defining “computer science and the liberal arts”, the group had a common designation with which to work. This consensus-based, interdisciplinary lexicon enriched and guided the group’s dialogue. Next, the group discussed and identified possible requisite computer science courses and ideologies, identified aspects of liberal arts programs that would benefit from the inclusion of principles of computer science, and estimated the possible postgraduate effects of computer science courses on students currently enrolled in liberal arts programs. Finally, workshop participants came away with a better understanding of the computing needs of liberal arts students and faculty to advance interdisciplinary collaboration, faculty research, cooperative learning, and post-graduate employment prospects.


Interdisciplinary learning Computing education Workforce preparation Professional agility Institutional challenges 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Rochester Institute of TechnologyRochesterUSA
  2. 2.University of Massachusetts LowellLowellUSA
  3. 3.Wheaton CollegeNortonUSA
  4. 4.State University of New York at GeneseoGeneseoUSA
  5. 5.Hamilton CollegeClintonUSA

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