Computer Science Curriculum Guidelines: A New Liberal Arts Perspective
ACM/IEEE curriculum guidelines for computer science, such as CS2013 or the forthcoming CS2023, provide well-researched and detailed guidance about the content and skills that make up an undergraduate computer science (CS) program. Liberal arts CS programs often struggle to apply these guidelines within their institutional context and goals. Historically, this has been addressed through the development of model CS curricula tailored for the liberal arts context. We take a different position: that no single model curriculum can apply across the wide range of liberal arts institutions. Instead, we argue that liberal arts CS educators need best practices for using guidelines such as CS2023 to inform curriculum design. These practices must acknowledge the opportunities and priorities of a liberal arts philosophy. This paper reviews the context and motivation behind computing in the liberal arts. We also review the history of liberal arts CS educators and ACM/IEEE curriculum guidelines. We present data and trends about liberal arts computing programs, discussing how this informs curriculum design. Finally, we propose a process that guides programs to work with curriculum guidelines through the lens of institutional and program identities, goals, and situational factors.