Evolution of Software Development Education – Part III: Liberal Arts Perspective

Posted on February 18, 2012


Author: Sanjay Goel, http://in.linkedin.com/in/sgoel

This is the third article in this 8 part series.  The fourth part is Evolution of Software Development Education – Part IV: Changing Role of Mathematics in Computing Curriculum Recommendations


The model curriculum recommended by Liberal Arts Computer Science Consortium (LACS) attempted to define computing program in terms of their approach towards data structures and algorithms [2]. It proposed that a computer science program is more interested in the formal properties of data structures and algorithms, a computer engineering program focuses more on their realization, and an   information systems program is more orientated towards applications. Even after two decades with many changes in computing arena, in its 2007 model curriculum, LACS has only slightly modified their original definition of computing programs. The realization part has now been partitioned into two categories of linguistic and hardware realization.

The 1986 report and all subsequent reports of LACS, put more emphasis on discrete mathematics and place it along with first introductory computing course before other mathematics courses.  In addition to two introductory computing courses, the 1986 report proposed four core computing courses on computer organization, algorithms, theory of computation, and principles of programming languages. These recommendations were only marginally revised by the consortium even after ten year [3]. In its 2007 recommendations, software development has been added to this category.

A typical liberal arts computer science program is more broad-based than specialized programs, and it includes more than 50%  non science courses in the area of humanities, social sciences, etc., [4]. It is unfortunate, that such programs do not exist in India, and software development education is mainly linked with engineering programs. This possibly has contributed to a nearly non-existing or marginal inter-disciplinary activity between computer science and these areas. In the west, it is not uncommon to have a degree in computing and philosophy, computing and art, and so on.   Perhaps, it is time to consider the option of a liberal arts oriented design degree with specialization in computing inIndia.



[2] Normal E. Gibbs and Allen B. Tucker, A Model Curriculum for a Liberal Arts Degree in Computer Science, Communications of the ACM, pp 202-210, March 1986.

[3] Henry M. Walker and G. Michael Schneider, A Revised Model Curriculum for a Liberal Arts Degree in Computer Science, Communications of the ACM, pp 85-95, December 1996.

[4] Liberal Arts Computer Science Consortium,   A 2007 Model Curriculum for a Liberal Arts Degree in Computer Science, Journal on Educational Resources in Computing (JERIC), ACM, pp 1-34, June 2007.

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