Adam Cannon receives provost funding for Computing in Context
Adam Cannonhas been awarded a provost grant to support Computing in Context, a new interdisciplinary course aimed at teaching humanities students the basics of programming and algorithmic problem solving. The funding is provided through the Hybrid Learning Course Redesign and Delivery program, which supports faculty in developing innovative and technology-rich learning strategies.
Cannon’s proposal was one of forty received from faculty across fourteen schools within Columbia University, with sixteen selected to receive funding. Awards were made by a senior faculty review committee based on the potential for enhancing teaching and learning. Many of the projects introduce innovative pedagogical approaches, including team-based and experiential learning and “flipped” classes where students first gain exposure to new material outside of class and use class time to discuss and apply that knowledge. The award provides faculty with both funding (from $5000 to $20,000) and access to the resources of the Columbia Center for New Media Teaching and Learning (CCNMTL) for content development, instructional design, media production, and assessment.
Computing in Context for which Cannon received the funding is designed to get liberal-arts students to think algorithmically. The course will teach the basics of coding so students can better understand how programming and algorithms apply to problems in one of three tracks chosen by the student: history, economics, or literary theory. In weekly lectures, Cannon will give a comprehensive introduction to Python to all students, while professors in each of the three disciplines will lead different sections to discuss applications of Python: Matthew Jones for history, Karl Sigman for economics, and Dennis Tenen for literary theory. All section specific lectures will be recorded.
The money awarded through the provost grant will help defray the cost of the course, which is higher than usual because it entails four faculty members. Future semesters will use the flipped classroom model, with the digitized lectures assigned as homework and with PhD candidates leading the sections in place of the three track professors.
The course (profiled in this Columbia Spectator article) was developed by Cannon and Julia Hirschberg and is one of the first serious efforts at exposing liberal-arts students to big ideas in computing in a choose-your-own adventure setting. If it succeeds, Cannon hopes that it will become a model for other universities.
Dean Boyce's statement on amicus brief filed by President Bollinger
President Bollinger announced that Columbia University along with many other academic institutions (sixteen, including all Ivy League universities) filed an amicus brief in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York challenging the Executive Order regarding immigrants from seven designated countries and refugees. Among other things, the brief asserts that “safety and security concerns can be addressed in a manner that is consistent with the values America has always stood for, including the free flow of ideas and people across borders and the welcoming of immigrants to our universities.”
This recent action provides a moment for us to collectively reflect on our community within Columbia Engineering and the importance of our commitment to maintaining an open and welcoming community for all students, faculty, researchers and administrative staff. As a School of Engineering and Applied Science, we are fortunate to attract students and faculty from diverse backgrounds, from across the country, and from around the world. It is a great benefit to be able to gather engineers and scientists of so many different perspectives and talents – all with a commitment to learning, a focus on pushing the frontiers of knowledge and discovery, and with a passion for translating our work to impact humanity.
I am proud of our community, and wish to take this opportunity to reinforce our collective commitment to maintaining an open and collegial environment. We are fortunate to have the privilege to learn from one another, and to study, work, and live together in such a dynamic and vibrant place as Columbia.
Mary C. Boyce
Dean of Engineering
Morris A. and Alma Schapiro Professor