A new, experimental major at Stanford University allows computer science students to simultaneously study the humanities without working toward a dual degree or double major.
The pilot program, called CS+X, blends computer science with any of 14 disciplines, including music, literature, philosophy and a range of world languages. The courses juxtapose opposing academic fields in subjects like the “neuroscience of music” or “geographic-information- systems-driven history.”
The goal, Stanford said, is to create a “new type of engineer and a new type of humanist.”
At the University of Minnesota — where about 30,500 undergraduates are funneled through about 10 colleges and schools on the Twin Cities campus — liberal education requirements force students to explore fields outside their majors.
Every enrollee has to take courses across different cores and themes to make sure they spend at least some of their college careers thinking about history as well as biological science, social justice in addition to technology.
But what seems to actually happen is that liberal arts students undertake just one or two technical lab experiences, and enrollees of hard science programs feel burdened by humanities requirements. For years, students have complained that fitting everything in by graduation can be tough.
Stanford’s approach to interdisciplinary studies better reflects the reality of a world colored by wide-ranging applications of creativity.
The CS+X program shows students that seemingly distinct fields of studies can not only be complementary, but cohesive, too. To produce well-rounded graduates, the University should follow Stanford’s example.