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Linnaeus University edging closer to become an iSchool

The iSchool initiative at Linnaeus University has received funding for 2018 to explore the potential for establishing an iSchool at the university. A couple of challenging tasks are left to deal with – but together the tasks form a unique chance to come up with interesting solutions, according to Koraljka Golub.

On November 13–15, the iSchool initiative at Linnaeus University was paid a visit by the iSchools' executive director, Michael Seadle, dean of faculty of arts at Humboldt University, and iSchools' chair-elect, Sam Oh, head of school at library & information science and data science department, Sungkyunkwan University. The purpose of the visit was to receive advice and an evaluation of the project – and the evaluation was encouraging.

"The evaluation was indeed positive; the model of an iSchool which brings together educational programmes and research nodes with colleagues coming from all five faculties was considered a rather unique way of building an iSchool, with all the benefits that may arise from such an interdisciplinary and inter-sectoral environment", says associate professor Koraljka Golub.

The project has received central funding from Linnaeus University for 2018 to explore the potential for establishing an iSchool at Linnaeus University. The latest model involves two undergraduate programmes (BA in library and information science, BSc in interactive media and technologies), three graduate programmes (MA in cultural sciences, MSc in social media and web technologies, MSc in e-health), two PhD programmes (Ph.D. in computer and information science, Ph.D. in GRASCA), a planned master in digital humanities and three research nodes: Linnaeus University Centre for Data Intensive Sciences and Applications (DISA), Gunilla Bradley Center for Digital Business and E-health Institute. Already a concrete outcome of these efforts is a new master course that started during the autumn 2017. The course programming for the digital humanities has attracted more than 35 students from 12 different European countries.

In October, Koraljka Golub and Marcelo Milrad, two of the leaders of the project, visited University of California, Irvine and University of Washington in Seattle to learn from and exchange knowledge with some of the well-established iSchools in the USA. Praise was received for the Linnaeus University model there as well, it was deemed to be unique, with a great potential to serve as a model for other universities in the world. In the same month, Trinity University in the USA (they do not have an iSchool) invited Linnaeus University to deliver a talk about its efforts related to the establishment of the iSchool and its digital humanities programme, as a possible model for them to work at the interdisciplinary axes.

At the time being, the project are working with establishing an Information Institute at Linnaeus University (iInstitute@LNU) which is a requirement for becoming a member of the iSchools organisation. Once established, the plan is to work further on aligning existing programmes with the iField, increase research with more specific focus on the iField, and organise events to promote it further with external stakeholders and to establish international collaboration within the iSchools organisation. Plans to create new programmes focusing on the core of the iField are under way, too.

"Creating a BSc degree in information science, an MSc degree in information management and an MSc degree in data science have been suggested by our distinguished guests as something that in combination with the current cross-sectoral efforts could set a good example of innovation and excellence for other iSchools in Europe. I think these are very challenging tasks for our university and we have an unique chance to face those and come up with interesting solutions", Koraljka Golub continues.

About iSchools and the iField
The information field, or the iField, resorts to interdisciplinary approaches to enrich and facilitate generation, the transfer and curation of data, information, and knowledge by the widespread use of technology in order to maximise the potential of humans. Disciplines of the iField include computer science, library and information science, business informatics, knowledge management, business, sociology, psychology, philosophy, ethics, linguistics, media. The iField is largely promoted and practiced by the iSchools Organization which today involves over 80 prestigious universities from around the world.