[SIGCIS-Members] History courses in CS departments

Dana Freiburger dana at dafreiburger.org
Sat Feb 18 16:53:55 PST 2023

Hi Evan and everyone,

Your message and the subsequent replies brought to mind what Thomas Kuhn wrote back in 1962 in The Structure of Scientific Revolutions:

“Scientific education makes use of no equivalent for the art museum or the library of classics, and the result is a sometimes drastic distortion in the scientist’s perception of his discipline’s past.” (p. 166 in my 1967 edition)

Two pages earlier Kuhn wrote:

“Why, after all, should the student of physics, for example, read the works of Newton, Faraday, Einstein, or Schrödinger, when everything he needs to know about these works is recapitulated in a far briefer, more precise, and more systematic form in a number of up-to-date textbooks?”

Thus many CS departments are holding true to a Kuhnian form in branching over history in their courses, something abetted by most textbooks.  I hope the evidence of successful CS courses on computer history provided by others on the list helps you in making your course permanent.  This would be a welcomed correction to the current CS pedagogical paradigm.


Dana A. Freiburger, Ph.D.
Madison, Wisconsin  U.S.A.

From: Members <members-bounces at lists.sigcis.org> On Behalf Of Evan Koblentz via Members
Sent: Wednesday, February 15, 2023 11:40 AM
To: members at lists.sigcis.org
Subject: [SIGCIS-Members] History courses in CS departments

Hi everyone,

I've been teaching a special topics course in computer history for three semesters here at NJIT. The university policy is three semesters maximum, then the course must be made permanent or cancelled. So I'm going through the process of trying to make it permanent.

The department administration supports it, but it has to be voted on by the rank-and-file faculty, many of whom don't seem to understand the value of a history course -- or at least not of a history course in a technical department, rather than through our humanities college.

It would help if I can show them other examples. Can anyone point me existing examples of history courses in CS, EE, or other technical departments at U.S. universities?
Evan Koblentz

New Jersey Institute of Technology
- Senior Writer, Office of Strategic Communications
- Adjunct Instructor, Ying Wu College of Computing
- Faculty/Staff Advisor, NJIT Lego Club

evank at njit.edu<mailto:evank at njit.edu>
(973) 596-3065
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