UI plans new program for information sciences


Gianna Sobieski

Emily Knox explains the program in her office building on East Daniel Street on Sunday. Knox is an associate professor at the University in the School of Information Sciences.

By Zihan Wang, Staff Writer

In fall 2020, the School of Information Sciences will provide a new program for students who want to pursue a bachelor’s degree in information sciences.

According to the iSchool’s website, this new program is the only one of its kind offered among public universities in Illinois and is a STEM-designated program.

A degree in information sciences will allow students to combine technology skills with the understanding of how people interact with information, according to the website.

Emily Knox, associate professor in the iSchool and director of BS/IS program, said when she arrived at the University around three years ago, she started talking with faculty about creating this type of program.

Knox said iSchool is ranked first among schools of library and information sciences around the country. She said the program will help undergraduate students learn from faculty of iSchool. She added that in the program, students will learn to use different theoretical lenses to study information technology and library and information sciences.

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“We are much more interested in the human side of information technology,” Knox said. “For students who are interested in that, there is really no space to study that as a whole on campus. So this would be the program to do that.”

Knox said in regards to the human side, the program will really focus on the users themselves, from the level of the individual to the level of a country or even the world.

Knox mentioned the program includes faculty from a variety of backgrounds, such as English and computer science.

Matthew Turk, assistant professor of iSchool, will teach several courses in the program. He said in an email the program provides an opportunity to work with and engage students around the nature and impact of information in the society.

Students in the BS/IS program will learn how to design information systems and services, process information for diverse users and interpret data for real-world application and collaboration.

The program includes seven required courses and a variety of electives. The courses will cover programming, database concepts, research methods and social issues such as information equity and ethics.

“Students will gain skills that will both increase their ability to navigate society and to excel in the job market,” Turk said.

For students who are interested in this program, Knox said courses for it are available before this fall, such as IS 202: Social Aspects of Information Technology and IS 390CC: Computers and Culture.

“This program will be of interest to many students from different backgrounds — it truly is going to be an exciting opportunity,” Turk said.

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Correction: A previous version of the article incorrectly stated the new program will begin in fall 2019. It begins in fall 2020. The Daily Illini regrets this error.