Doctoral students from the three University of California “I Schools” met as a group for the first time January 23–24 at UC Irvine. The participants in the student-run workshop represented UC Berkeley’s School of Information, UCLA’s Department of Information Studies, and UC Irvine’s Donald Bren School of Information and Computer Science. Some of the 50 students had completed only one semester of graduate school, while others were on the job market and poised to graduate this semester. Their research and academic interest spanned a wide range of diverse topics, but they shared a desire to shape the interdisciplinary fields of research that are found in information schools.
The primary goals of the workshop were to:
- Improve the quality of individual students’ research
- Promote interdisciplinary and cross campus collaboration
- Foster a sense of community amongst the UC I School students
- Encourage professional growth
Attendees discussed their individual research interests with their peers, received feedback, learned about different approaches to information studies in the different schools, and collaborated in mini workshops on potential research agendas for some of the challenging questions facing information studies.
The students used the mini-workshops to address questions such as:
- What does it mean to do “design” work when the web has made it clear how much of a role everyday users have in the design process?
- How do information systems embody political values and how do global political issues affect the development of these systems?
- How are different academic groups handling the debates related to online privacy and protection of personal information?
- How are new conceptions of creativity being formed and how are tools being used to support creative practice?
These conversations opened up spaces for conversation and discussion that the students plan on continuing in the months, and hopefully years, ahead.
This week at the fourth annual iConference, held February 8-11 at UNC, Chapel Hill, some of the conference organizers and many attendees will be participating in an open roundtable to discuss the details of the planning and the results of the workshop. There are currently plans to hold a similar event next year.
The idea for the conference originated at last year’s iConference at UCLA. A team comprised of Megan Finn, Dan Perkel, and Christo Sims from the UC Berkeley School of Information, Lilly Nguyen and Becca Dean from UCLA, and Lilly Irani, Sameer Patil, and Silvia Lindtner from UC Irvine made it a reality. A planning grant from the Bears Breaking Boundaries contest at UC Berkeley provided initial support. Additional support from Intel Research, Yahoo! , the Institute for Software Research at UCI, and the three schools made it possible for students to attend without any out-of-pocket expenses.