The summit series Technology and the Liberal Arts is part of the W.M. Keck Foundation grant on digital studies and liberal education. The purpose of the Technology and Liberal Arts Summit Series is to bring together Silicon Valley technology leaders with students and academic leaders from St. Mary's College of California interested in the role of technology in contemporary liberal arts undergraduate curricula.
TECHNOLOGY SUMMIT I
The Technology in the Liberal Arts Summit was held at the offices of Yammer in San Francisco on November 14, 2014. A total of 43 participants attended, including 23 technology-sector representatives, 10 Saint Mary’s faculty and academic leaders and 10 students. Industry participants represented large companies (e.g. Cisco, e-Bay, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Mozilla, Twitter and Wells Fargo) and smaller firms (e.g. Boxer, CloudCamp, Jivaldi, LifeJourney and YapStone) (see (Appendix A for a list of the advisory council members). Summit participants discussed three overarching questions:
QUESTIONS #1: In what ways and to what extent can a liberal arts education prepare young men and women for the contemporary digital workforce?
QUESTIONS #2: To what extent should training in computer science be a component of a liberal arts curriculum to best prepare students for the contemporary technical workforce? What should that training look like?
QUESTIONS #3: What types of strategic partnerships between academia and industry should be developed to operationalize such curricula and best prepare college graduates for entry into the contemporary workforce, especially those who have historically been under-represented in the tech sector such as women and first-generation college graduates?
PRIMARY FINDINGS FROM TECH SUMMIT I
The liberal arts have always stood at the intersection of the sciences, the humanities, and the fine arts. So the question is not how to add computer education into the liberal arts curriculum. The question is how the liberal arts curriculum can be configured to teach both with and about digital technology, so that the critical thinking and collaborative learning skills at the heart of the liberal arts can be applied most effectively to the challenges presented in the contemporary culture. The insight is not insignificant and, once realized, became an exciting place of discovery and development regarding the question of computer science within the liberal arts.