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The National Science Foundation has recently awarded Professors Tom Doeppner, Spike Hughes, Shriram Krishnamurthi and Steven Reiss a grant, in the expected amount of $540,000, to develop an integrated and rigorous set of courses for teaching students in the humanities and social sciences concepts from computer science. The project, entitled “Applied Computer Science for the Humanities and Social Sciences,” aims to fill an educational void by providing the appropriate computer science skills to these students, and stressing web-based gathering and dissemination of information. It will give students in the humanities and social sciences the appropriate background to apply computational resources and techniques to their chosen fields of study and their eventual careers.

A key premise of the project is that students in the humanities and social sciences will be better motivated to get the computing and mathematics background they need if they can see its immediate applicability to their personal areas of study. This program is designed as an adjunct to a student’s normal concentration. It provides application-tailored knowledge and tools without the depth and breadth of a complete computer science degree. The program is aimed at applying computer science rather than mastering computer science, and at motivating the necessary mathematical material through a goal-directed approach where topics are introduced when they serve to let students cross a hurdle.

The Brown community is enormously supportive of this work. Colleagues in the Archeology, Classics, Economics, German Studies, Music, Political Science, and Sociology departments and the University’s Scholarly Technology Group have expressed an interest in participating. “This project demonstrates Brown’s collaborative environment at its best and the Department is grateful to Tom, Spike, Shriram and Steven for spearheading such an important experiment,” stated Roberto Tamassia, chair of the Department of Computer Science.