This statement outlines the department's philosophy and policies for academic scholarship. It was written and approved in the Spring of 1998 and revised in the Fall of 2006.

This statement supplements the vision and mission statement of the department.


Each member of the Department of Computer Science should be engaged in professional activities of a scholarly nature that reach beyond the classroom. We attempt to describe below the goals and nature of such activity. Our intent is to stimulate the faculty to self evaluation and renewed commitment to the discipline.

1. Defining Scholarship

Each faculty member should have a special interest in some area that is related to computing. This could be a specialty within a particular area, such as artificial intelligence, systems analysis, or networking; it could be a focus on computer science or information systems education; it could involve perspectival study of the relationship of the Christian faith to one's discipline; or some combination of these.

It is the responsibility of a faculty member to keep abreast of new developments in their area of interest through the study of the literature as well as through participation in professional conferences, work-shops, short courses, etc. In addition, each one should be involved in some kind of scholarly investigation or research. This should lead to a sharing of results through colloquium talks, the organization of workshops, presentations at professional meetings, or the publication of books, articles or technical reports. What characterizes scholarship in the department is that it results in a product that is evaluated by other professional peers, such as a publication, a talk, or a piece of software.

2. Goals of Scholarship

We identify three reasons for encouraging faculty members at Calvin College to be engaged in scholarship. The first goal of scholarship is to increase our knowledge of God's creation, and in so doing increase our knowledge of God. As a discipline, computer science has roots in two knowledge areas: engineering and mathematics. There is some tension in the discipline between these two: engineering emphasizes implementation aspects such as practicality and efficiency, and mathematics emphasizes theoretical aspects such as logic and formalism. Different computer science faculty will naturally have different scholarly interests, with some faculty being more interested in the engineering side of the discipline, and others being more interested in its mathematical side. Maintaining such diversity of faculty interests is important to a healthy department, and should be a goal in faculty recruitment. Information systems has similar roots, in computing and management. As with computer science, maintaining diversity is important to a healthy department.

A second goal of scholarship is professional development. Our department specialties are dependent on rapidly changing technology. Moreover, the rate of change seems to be increasing, making it difficult to keep abreast of the changes. However, it is imperative that department faculty do so, for a variety of reasons. One reason is that it renews their enthusiasm for the discipline through the joy of making fresh discoveries. Another reason is that it helps faculty members keep their classes up to date by incorporating appropriate new developments and technologies. Yet another reason is that faculty members actively working in a wide variety of areas demonstrate the breadth of the field. This helps to combat the common misconceptions that the department is merely using applications, or programming. By coming in contact with people who are actively working in the discipline, students can be made aware that applications and programming are but a small part of the field.

A third goal of scholarship is to establish professional relationships that reach beyond Calvin College to the larger community. This both invigorates us as faculty members and provides us with an opportunity to bring a Christian perspective and witness to bear in the larger academic community. Personal contacts with colleagues at other colleges and universities have the added benefit of making it easier for us to ensure that our program is consistent with those at other institutions, and ensure that our students are being well-prepared for careers as professionals.

3. Examples of Scholarly Activities in Computer Science

Scholarly activity often results in improved teaching, and consequently there is not always a clear distinction between work in the areas of teaching and scholarship. Scholarship normally involves the following three components:

This list is not meant to be exhaustive; there are other activities that fall under the heading of scholarship, and still other activities that lie in the overlap of teaching and scholarship (such as curriculum development and the supervision of student research and writing). What qualifies an activity as scholarship (rather than just good teaching) is the creation of a product that is subjected to evaluation by one's peers.

4. Accountability for Scholarly Activities

We propose the following plan to encourage and support scholarly activity in the department faculty:

Proposal We propose that each faculty member report regularly to the department's Personnel Committee on their research and scholarship. To avoid adding to faculty workloads, we propose to use documents that are already being written as part of the reappointment and review process. Specifically, each untenured faculty member who is being considered for reappointment should provide the committee with a copy of the portion of their Statement of Activities Report that pertains to research and scholarship. Similarly, we propose that each tenured department member provide the committee with a copy of the Self Evaluation and Professional Plan that are prepared as part of their six-year review.

In addition, we propose an intermediate 3-year review, in which each faculty member provides the committee with a brief update of his or her activities since the last Professional Plan was written. For the sake of consistency, this update should include the following information:

  1. A report on activities and results since submission of the last plan.
  2. A statement of the area(s) in which the faculty member intends to work.
  3. A statement of what the faculty member intends to do and how it will be done.
  4. A description of the products that may result.

The Personnel Committee will review the plans and provide written, advisory feedback. This feedback is intended to encourage the faculty member by providing a written record demonstrating the support of colleagues. The update and feedback are not intended to be a contractual obligation that would limit the freedom of a faculty member to explore new scholarly directions.