AM08 2008 START Conference Manager    

One degree, three streams: three populations?

Joan Cherry, Wendy Duff, Nalini Singh and Luanne Freund

ASIS&T 2008 Annual Meeting (AM08 2008)
Columbus, Ohio, October 24-29, 2008


There is a well-noted shift in library and information science (LIS) education towards breadth of disciplinary scope. The KALIPER study on LIS curriculum change found an increased focus on information technology, multi-disciplinarity, breadth and flexibility of offerings, including multiple degrees and specializations [1]. This is reflected in the ways in which LIS programs have begun to position and market themselves. The recently inaugurated I-School caucus is the strongest expression of this trend. Among the core attributes of an “I-School” is that the faculty, “should come from various disciplines and have broad based, inclusive, multidisciplinary mindsets” [2]. The curricula of the 19 member I-Schools reflect this, as they typically offer multiple degrees, and/or multiple specializations within a single degree.

This breadth of focus raises important issues of identity and cohesion among I-School faculty, as noted by King [3], but equally important are the implications for student populations of information schools. We conducted a four-year study of students working towards a Master of Information Studies (MISt) degree at the Faculty of Information Studies (FIS) at the University of Toronto. FIS is a member of the I-School caucus and offers an ALA accredited program with three streams: Archives, Information Systems, and Library and Information Science (LIS). Data from this study show that strong differences exist in the backgrounds, motivations and aspirations of students in the three streams, over and above the different subject matter they have chosen to study. Understanding this diversity has implications for recruitment, curriculum planning, and student culture within I-Schools and LIS programs in general.

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