The Alan J. Perlis SCS Student Teaching Award
School of Computer Science, Carnegie Mellon University
Pittsburgh PA 15213-3891
(412)268-8525 . (412)268-5576 (fax)

Teaching across disciplinary boundaries

David A. Bamman
2014 Graduate Student Teaching Award

I've been nominated for this award for my role in two courses – as a teaching assistant in the LTI course Natural Language Processing (with Noah Smith and Chris Dyer), and as a co-instructor (with Chris Warren in the English department) of the cross-disciplinary Digital Literary and Cultural Studies. I'm grateful for the honor, and see this award as recognition not just for my own teaching, but for the increasingly vital role that such cross-disciplinary learning has in the life of computer science.

While NLP has now become a mainstay in CS departments, it's easy to forget that it still remains the shared ground of computer scientists and linguists alike (as it has throughout its 50+ year history); as more and more of these hybrid communities of practice continue to rise – including computational social science, computational journalism and the digital humanities – it's important that we give space to these shared endeavors so the next institutional mainstay has room to take root and thrive.

Digital Literary and Cultural Studies is one such course. It brought together students from SCS and the English department to create an environment where each disciplinary side can learn from the other – not just transferring the algorithmic knowledge we have in SCS to another domain, but in working in the other direction as well, leveraging the critical acumen that's fostered in the humanities to reflect back on the assumptions that underlie many of our computational models. I'm proud to be a part of such a course here, and to see this work valued by our community; as I'm constantly reminded by my collaborators, we all have much to learn from each other, both within and across the boundaries of our disciplines.

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