First i-Schools conference to be held: New breed emerging

September 29, 2005

University Park, Pa. -- At major universities across the nation, a revolution is under way in teaching and learning in information technology. Old departmental silos are toppling, discipline lines are being crossed and a whole new breed of information school -- "i-school" -- is emerging. In response, more than 250 deans, faculty members and students from across the country are converging at Penn State Sept. 28-30 for the First Conference of the i-School Community.

Under the leadership of Dean James B. Thomas, Penn State School of Information Sciences and Technology, and Dean Raymond von Dran, Syracuse University School of Information Studies, with colleagues John L. King, University of Michigan; Debra J. Richardson, University of California, Irvine; and Harry Bruce and Mike Eisenberg from the University of Washington, representatives from 18 i-schools will seek a common understanding of what makes the i-schools unique, what they offer society, and the challenges they face.

"Dramatic change has occurred in how many universities conceive information technology education," said Thomas. "Research and curricula are being crafted through the blending of different fields and disciplines to inspire new solutions for our society."

Dean von Dran added, "Information is central to our way of life in the 21st century. There is no commerce without e-commerce, there is no government without e-government, and there is not a science or profession that is not totally dependent on reliable and timely information. Creating systems, processes and infrastructure that deliver information in an anytime-anywhere environment is so complex, it calls upon individuals who have been immersed in an interdisciplinary education to provide viable and effective working solutions."

Addressing the theme "Bridging Disciplines to Confront Grand Challenges," the conference is sponsored in part by the National Science Foundation. A book to be published by the MIT Press will distill the results of the two-day conference.

The emergence of the i-schools has not gone unnoticed by savvy employers, who are looking for leadership and problem-solving abilities, along with technology skills from 21st century graduates. As well, many millions of dollars have gone to i-school researchers as they attack multifaceted problems associated with information and technology in our society.

Sessions at the i-schools conference will be built on faculty and graduate student papers organized around essentials of the field of information, grand challenges, identity and i-school life.

Joining representatives from the convener schools will be conferees from the University of California, Berkeley, UCLA, Drexel, Florida State, Georgia Tech, Indiana, Illinois, Maryland, North Carolina, Pittsburgh, Rutgers and Texas.

For more information on the i-schools conference, visit online.

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated March 10, 2010