[SIGCIS-Members] Good news! Re: History courses in CS departments

Doron Swade d.swade at blueyonder.co.uk
Mon Mar 13 04:28:08 PDT 2023



Congratulations. Excellent news. Many have long lamented the absence of history of computing on university curricula. Perhaps there is an analogy with horticulture – perennial (enduringly renewing) compared to annual (ephemeral). Good to have the course consolidated. Encourages cumulative growth.


I was struck by your use of ‘correctives’ in your Why History? Link. I used the same device in my recently published book The History of Computing: A very Short Introduction (OUP August 2022) using examples of how received perceptions became entrenched in established accounts https://academic.oup.com/book/43867. 


The book asks, What tale do we tell? And Why do we tell it the way we do? It is a canonical account of computer history in 35,000 words from pebbles to smartphones critically examining how and why we constructed the narrative the way we did and how the tropes of popular history influenced the received account. An aerial view of the field, that resonates with what I imagine to be part of your motivation for your course. 


All best


Doron Swade

Chair, Computer Conservation Society






From: Members <members-bounces at lists.sigcis.org> On Behalf Of Koblentz, Evan via Members
Sent: Thursday, March 2, 2023 2:34 AM
To: members at lists.sigcis.org
Subject: [SIGCIS-Members] Good news! Re: History courses in CS departments


My course is permanent now! Our CS faculty voted in favor of it today. The department chairman called me with the good news and said there were only two 'no' votes. It's going to be CS-210. I hoped for 300 level, but I'll take it.


Now that it's no longer a special topics course starting this fall, I will post a syllabus at https://web.njit.edu/~evank/.


The many replies to my original post on this list, both on/off-list, were very helpful. Thank you again to everyone who posted constructively.


On Wed, Feb 15, 2023 at 12:40 PM Evan Koblentz <evank at njit.edu <mailto:evank at njit.edu> > wrote:

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
https://web.njit.edu/~evank <https://web.njit.edu/~evank/> 

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