Albion College decides to scrap Computer Science and Journalism majors

I came across this article while surfing the web this afternoon: Albion College officials defend decisions on faculty reduction and elimination of courses | – MLive.com. Apparently, Computer Science and Journalism (as well as a few other topics) aren’t reasonable career options in the twenty-first century.

Of course, I should perhaps be one of the first to agree. After all, I didn’t learn much about computer science at the University, other than a good reading list (due to University bureaucracy, I wasn’t allowed to take Computer Science and Biology at the same time – I had tried that before with General Biology and Medical Biology with a bit more success, but didn’t get both diplomas – and seeing as I still can’t be in two places at a time, I couldn’t very well be sitting in in courses while performing biology experiments in a lab at the same time, so my CS studies were mostly nightly). The thing is, though, that by far most people that work in any field have formal training in that field and, although out-sourcing may ship some jobs to South Asia, the only reason why that is happening is because there is competition from the South Asian market: they have a well-educated work-force to offer that is less costly than the work-force we have here. Some jobs, however, aren’t as easily out-sourced to other countries, which basically means that the out-sourced part of the industry is really a niche – albeit a large one. As far as I can tell, the North American market is thriving, regardless of the recession, when it comes to opportunities for specialized CS jobs.

Of course, the faculty opposed the move, which leads me to believe that the move was motivated financially (programs that lose money will get cut, sometimes regardless of their academic value). That, to me, seems routed in a marketing problem: perhaps they just couldn’t get the message out – and the students in.

Then, there’s Journalism. There are various blogs around the world that provide high-quality coverage of a wide variety of subjects and there are tools that allow us to aggregate that information and read through it – a bit like editing our personal news paper. Personally, I have a blog (you’re reading it now) and I use Google Reader for the “editing my personal news paper” part. I do, however, read three actual news papers: The Globe & Mail the Volkskrant and NY Times, and I read Maclean’s. I also listen to CBC radio basically all the time. In my opinion Journalism is one of the most important fields of study – and work – in these times: with the globalization of the economy and the influence corporations have on politics, journalism is necessary, if only to get the facts straight and to keep democracy functioning correctly. Scrapping journalism is perhaps even more short-sighted than scrapping Computer Science…

Of course, this might just have been a question of “which foot do I shoot myself in: insolvancy, or irrelevance?”

About rlc

Software Analyst in embedded systems and C++, C and VHDL developer, I specialize in security, communications protocols and time synchronization, and am interested in concurrency, generic meta-programming and functional programming and their practical applications. I take a pragmatic approach to project management, focusing on the management of risk and scope. I have over two decades of experience as a software professional and a background in science.
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