Overview and Learning Goals


Digital and computational studies (DCS) is “computation in context”— a focus on digital objects (e.g., a computer program) that exist in digital environments. Analysis includes:

  • Artifacts: objects of study, which are shared with many fields in the liberal arts. The questions explored include asking how digital objects are interpreted in physical, social, historical, and cultural contexts.
  • Architectures: the infrastructures that give rise to the objects, their use, or their study, which are also shared with other fields. The questions explored include consideration of the consequences of these associated infrastructures, data, technology, and labor for understanding the object.
  • Abstractions: the models built and theories tested through those models. The questions explored include asking what different models reveal about objects and what common ground exists between different fields that use those models. 
  • Agency: interpretation and decision-making. The questions explored include examination of how computation or the existence of a digital object shape who can make decisions, how results are interpreted, or how empowerment to act or express knowledge are influenced under the above conditions.
  • Accountability: consequences and responsibility. An evaluative and critical exploration of ethical considerations of artifacts and the unintended outcomes of their deployment.

Objects are not merely analyzed—they are also created. A significant part of the student experience in DCS is collaborative and creative across fields of expertise. This creation can connect with virtually any discipline on campus.

Learning Goals

  1. Critically evaluate existent and emergent digital technologies through the DCS analytical framework.
  2. Design, create and deploy alternative digital technology emphasizing its positive impact on the common good.
  3. Productively integrate DCS methods and tools into other epistemological fields and practices in the liberal arts and daily life.
  4. Practice critical data assessment and agile project design.
  5. Communicate effectively when sharing DCS research and topics.

Options for Majoring or Minoring in the Program

Students may elect to coordinate a major in digital and computational studies with any other department/program major. Students pursuing a coordinate major may not normally elect a second major. Non-majors may elect to minor in digital and computational studies.

Program Website

This is an excerpt from the official Bowdoin College Catalogue and Academic Handbook. View the Catalogue