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Assistant Professor of Computer Science John "JD" Dougherty
Assistant Professor of Computer Science John "JD" Dougherty

Diversity through Accessibility

Computing and information technology have brought about rapid and deep change in the world of the 21st century (including the website you are presently reading). This trend is expected to continue, with questions emerging about the number and state of readiness of professionals to create, implement and leverage computation.

But are some interested and qualified students somehow being dissuaded from pursuing computing education? If so, why?

Assistant Professor of Computer Science John "JD" Dougherty will be chairing the 39th Technical Symposium on Computer Science Education. The event is sponsored by the Special Interest Group on Computer Science Education (SIGCSE) and the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM). This annual conference brings together the most influential approaches and people to discuss issues of pedagogy, technology and other supports for students in computing. This year's Symposium will be help in Portland, Oregon from March 12 – 15, 2008 and is expected to attract 1,200 professors, researchers and other professionals, with support from over 64 vendors from industry, non-profits and government organizations.

The theme of the Symposium is "Diversity through Accessibility," and was crafted by JD with his co-Chair, Susan Rodger at Duke University. "We wanted to connect these two important issues in computer science education and begin a set of conversations exploring how to design and implement tools and teaching methods to resolve both issues, resulting in a more diverse, better prepared group of graduates in computing," says Dougherty. "The theme naturally fits with the existing mission of Haverford, to promote social justice through engaging dialogue and great teaching."

The conference will certainly bring international attention to these issues in education for computer science, but for JD, the local impacts are enough. "There are many fine places to study computer science concepts, including Haverford. However, we can also provide the means for students to apply these concepts in a way that makes everything more concrete, and thus more accessible."

The ramp from Magill Library with Ryan Gym and Sharpless Hall in the background.

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