Minutes of the 2nd working group meeting

Madrid, July 7, 1997.

Present at the meeting: Walter Daelemans, Laurence Danlos, Gert Durieux, Marie Hayet, Brigitte Krenn, Paul McKevitt, Julia Lavid, Joakim Nivre, Torbjørn Nordgård, Koenraad de Smedt (chair), Andy Way.

Welcome and status presens

This meeting is an extended working group meeting which profits from the fact that representatives from many partners are assembled at the ACL/EACL conference. It is also a joint meeting with the ERASMUS ICP on Natural Language Processing.

The persons present at this meeting are considered de facto members of the working group and will all be invited to future meetings, finances permitting (one person from each institution).

ACO*HUM is close to completing its first year of activities. The network has set up a project office an has established internal communication and public relations channels. The themes indicated at the previous working group meeting must now be made into more concrete actions (see below).

Among the events planned for next academic year are a policy symposium and a conference. The participation of the members of the working group at these events is requested.

Curriculum development

It is recognized as a desirable goal for ACO*HUM to build on the curriculum work done by the ICP on NLP and place it in the context of ACO*HUMs purpose and goals.

Andy Way presented a short summary of ICP results (available as a Postscript file). These results consist mainly of mutual agreements on basic modules, an overview of available specialization modules, and use of ECTS (cf. 1, 2). The work was aimed at supporting student mobility through mutual recognition of courses.

Computational linguistics is in a special situation due to the fact that it is embedded in different ways in the educational structure at different institutions and different countries. An inherently disciplinary field, CL is often found in humanities faculties and has strong relations with general linguistics, applied linguistics and the language departments, but it is also often found in computer science (informatics) or engineering departments. Due to the ACO*HUM focus on humanities, the role of advanced computing in the humanies will receive much attention, but the relations with other faculties may not be neglected.

At the same time, we notice an increase in completely new programmes which break through traditional discipline boundaries, with a strong focus on the new information and communication technologies. Examples are the international masters degree in Intelligent Multimedia at Aalborg University, and Multimedia voor Kennisoverdracht (Multimedia for Knowledge Transfer) at Leiden University.

The working group would like to build further on the guidelines and agreements made by the ICP in order to create a European master's degree in Computational Linguistics, using ECTS as a common base. The working group is aware of the fact that a similar degree in Natural Language and Speech Processing is being pursued by a consortium led by Universiteit Utrecht. Koenraad de Smedt will investigate possibilities for coordinating actions and will try to obtain information about European degrees.

Handbook on European Studies

The working group sets the goal of compiling a Handbook on European Studies in Computational Linguistics, to be incorporated in a larger Handbook on European Studies in Advanced Computing in the Humanities. The volume on European Studies in Phonetics and Speech Communication (ed. by Bloothooft, Hazan, Huber & Llisterri) will partly serve as a model. However, the handbook will also partly consist of regularly updated information on the WWW.

The handbook will consist of the following parts:

  1. General part (on WWW and paper) including:
    1. Description of the field of study, professional profiles of the computational linguist, employment opportunities and European perspective
    2. Country profiles, including national educational structures, institutions, research centres, infrastructure, etc.
  2. Information per institution (database on WWW only) including:
    1. curricula and degrees
    2. courses, including ODL courses
    3. computational resources
    4. teaching staff and contact information

The information on countries and institutions will be gathered by national organizations and their ACO*HUM contact persons. A working group consisting of Walter Daelemans, Paul Mc Kevitt and Koenraad de Smedt will make a template which will serve as a basis for information gathering. This will be ready before the policy symposium.

The professional profiles will be made in cooperation with the EACL.

Relation between university and society; cooperation with other organizations

In cooperation with ELSNET, a survey will be made of competence requirements in European language industries. ELSNET's industrial partners will be the target group. ELSNET is also interested in cooperation on ODL (see below)

The EACL is interested in establishing tighter bonds with ACO*HUM and would like to cooperate on professional profiles (see above). The EACL is also considering devoting attention to educational issues at its biannual conference via e.g. a special session or workshop.

ODL and web-based courses

As a part of its survey, ACO*HUM is investigating which initiatives for ODL courses exist in the field of computational linguistics. Valerie Hazan is conducting a similar investigation within NL and speech processing.

In addition, ACO*HUM would like to support some experiments, possibly in combination with ELSNET. Joakim Nivre, Brigitte Krenn and Christer Samuelson are working on a web-based course on statistical models in linguistics. ACO*HUM will promote this course by making it known among the students of its partners and supporting the evaluation of the course.


The next meeting will be at the policy symposium in Granada.

Minutes written by Koenraad de Smedt