Special Topics in Information: Activism, Media, and Information


INF2301H (summer 2018 and summer 2020) — Special Topics in Information: Activism, Media, and Information

This course explores the relationship between social justice, media and technology, in order to understand communication and information as sites of struggle, worked upon by activists from below.  Our inquiry together will pursue such questions as: how do people come into participation in civic life through work with media, information, and technology? How do organized social movements use  information to perform outreach, build networks, and make demands? How do activists understand and interrupt algorithms, databases, infrastructures, and policies? How does mediated emotion and digital intimacy sustain activist labour? The course emphasizes activism within digital networks, which we will connect to classic concepts from social movement studies, considering how digital activisms remediate, or depart from, activism with “older” forms.

INF2301H (fall 2019) — Special Topics in Information: Data Analysis of Social Networks

As we increasingly live in a networked world, studying data that is shaped in the form of networks becomes an essential part of the toolkit of information researchers and data scientists. Social network analysis is a structural perspective to study the social world that focuses on the relationships between actors rather than the characteristics of the individuals themselves.  It can be applied to a wide variety of social questions, and is used as a powerful method of research across various disciplines.  The course offers a broader view of theory and applications of social network analysis, including applications to online and social media networks. We will learn how to identify influential actors within social networks, investigate community structure within networks, and test hypotheses to analyze how networked data can explain the social world. The course includes a practical component and provides hands on experience on network data collection and analysis using social network analysis existing tools.

INF2301H (summer 2019) —  Special Topics in Information: Library Test Kitchen (LTK)

Within the Library and Information Science (LIS) discipline in North America, several projects have been funded recently that focus on developing pedagogy that incorporates the principles and practices of Design Thinking. The course instructor was a co-PI on a grant (IMLS, 2014-2017) that explored innovative approaches to rethinking LIS curriculum and the skills required of graduates to engage in the development and implementation of contemporary library programs and services. As part of the research, we worked with faculty in design programs at Harvard and MIT, respectively, and developed a pilot curriculum for students to engage with libraries in applying design thinking to projects requiring innovative approaches. A version of the pilot has been offered at Simmons College (Boston) for the past two years, with the University of Washington iSchool subsequently adapting a similar course. While design principles are core to the Faculty of Information’s User Experience Design (UXD) concentration for technology applications, Library Test Kitchen (LTK) is a field-based course intended to bring students into a library setting to co-design and build solutions to user- and/or library (institution)- defined “problems” which are not necessarily technology-focused. While LTK will use libraries as the “test kitchen” for exploring innovative solutions, the design thinking approach is one that can be applied in many settings. Consequently, the course may be of interest to students enrolled in other concentrations, such as Archives and Records Management (ARM), Knowledge Management/Information Management, UXD, and in the Master of Museum Studies (MMSt) degree program.

Students in the LIS concentration will benefit from acquiring a toolkit of Design Thinking principles and applications that are in demand in contemporary libraries committed to innovative programs, services, spaces, or systems (broadly defined). At the same time, they will work with real problems alongside management and staff in the field in a variety of library settings.