Where in the World (of Career Clusters) is Computer Science?

Since I have spent most of the last twelve months of my work life aligning the proposed revision to our standard course of study to the career clusters, I seem to frame many of my thoughts around those career clusters. I can’t help but try to put the entire career cluster initiative into perspective, and I wonder, where in the world of career clusters is computer science?
I have positioned the information technology courses in our standard course of study in the Information Technology Career Cluster:

  • programming courses in the Programming and Software Development Pathway;
  • Multimedia and Webpage Design and e-Commerce courses in the Web and Digital Communications Pathway; and
  • network administration courses in the Network Systems Pathway.
    Those are information technology courses, but are they not computer science? Is the Information Technology Career Cluster the home for computer science?
    I championed Valerie Barr’s December 2, 2010 blog post and wholeheartedly agreed with her statement “We need to raise our voices to demand that the term STEM, when used by government people, must include computer science.” STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) is actually one of the sixteen career clusters and computer science would by its very nature be a huge part of STEM. Since so many people in positions of authority strongly support the STEM initiative, one would logically hope that the same support would transfer to support for computer science.
    So, is the STEM Career Cluster the home for computer science? That would certainly seem a good place for computer science to reside. In our state, the Technology Education folks staked an early claim on in the STEM Career Cluster. They do have technology in their program name and they certainly teach technology in their courses. They even teach robotics and scientific visualization. Well, aren’t robotics and scientific visualization computer science?
    One could argue, and I certainly agree, that computer science cuts across all sixteen career clusters. Computer science is obviously present in the Health Sciences Cluster in the Health Informatics Pathway as well as others. Computer science has a place in the Business, Management, and Administration Cluster in the Business Information Management Pathway, the Operations Management Pathway and elsewhere. Computer science is an integral part of every career in the 21st Century and beyond.
    One of the drawbacks that I noted early on in the career cluster initiative is that today’s careers are so interrelated. It is difficult to pigeon-hole careers and disciplines into sixteen neat categories. Computer science is ubiquitous. It is the literacy for our time. Every student needs to study computer science in some format to be career-ready. Where in the world of Career Clusters is computer science? It is everywhere, in every cluster.
    Note: “The States’ Career Clusters Initiative (SCCI) is an initiative established under the National Career Technical Education Foundation (NCTEF) to provide Career Clusters as a tool for seamless transition from education to career in this era of changing workplace demands. SCCI helps states as they connect career technical education (CTE) to education, workforce preparation, and economic development. To this end, SCCI develops new products and promotes information-sharing, techniques, and methods to aid the development and implementation of Career Clusters within states.”
    More information can be found at http://www.careerclusters.org/index.php.
    Deborah Seehorn
    CSTA Board of Directors

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