Diversity at the iSchool
The iSchool at the University of Maryland prioritizes issues of diversity and inclusion in the iSchool community. Information and technology raise issues of diversity and inclusion among many communities; as such, the iSchool embraces a broad definition of diversity in terms of race, ethnicity, gender, disability, age, socio-economic status, education, geography, language, literacy, sexual orientation, and national origin, among other factors.
The iSchool faculty includes several leading scholars of diversity and information, and many faculty members include diversity and inclusion issues in their research. These research projects range from investigating the roles of libraries in promoting digital literacy to creating instructional materials that encourage the participation of underrepresented groups in science education, and from building online resources for local cultural institutions, nonprofits, and governments to meet community needs in creative ways to designing and developing technologies to make the web more accessible for persons with disabilities. Research in the iSchool related to diversity and inclusion has been funded by the Institute of Museum & Library Services, the National Science Foundation, the American Library Association, the Smithsonian Institute, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, among many other organizations.
In November 2012, the iSchool will be hosting the first Symposium on Diversity and Library and Information Science Education. Bringing together educators, scholars, professionals, government agencies, and non-profits, this event is intended to increase the dialogue in the Library and Information Science field about creating innovative educational approaches to both increase the diversity of the information professions and enhance the inclusiveness of information practice.
The iSchool also offers the innovative Information and Diverse Populations Specialization, which is a unique program of study that prepares Master’s students to be culturally competent information professionals ready to practice inclusively upon graduation. All students are able to take a range of classes on topics of diversity and inclusion related to information and technology, such as:
- LBSC 620 Diverse Populations, Inclusion, and Information;
- LBSC 622 Universal Usability;
- INST 613 Information and Human Rights; and
- INST 614 Inclusion, Literacy, and the Public Good.
Along with such focused on diversity and inclusion topics, many other courses address issues of diversity and inclusion as part of their content.
In addition to teaching and research, the iSchool has several positions and organizations specifically devoted to promoting and celebrating diversity and inclusion in the iSchool and connecting the iSchool to wider university, local, state, national, and international communities.
Diversity and inclusion efforts in the iSchool are led by the Diversity Officer, who coordinates efforts related to diversity and inclusion in the iSchool and serves as the primary representative of the iSchool on campus-wide and broader community initiatives. The Diversity Officer is primarily responsible for monitoring and evaluating diversity efforts in the iSchool, well as serving as Assistant Director of the MLS Program for Information & Diverse Populations Specialization.
The Diversity Committee focuses on outreach, partnership, and community activities related to diversity and inclusion for the iSchool, including overseeing the administration of the James A. Partridge Award in conjunction with the Citizens for Maryland Libraries. The current members of the Diversity Committee are:
- Hussain Abbas
- Paul T. Jaeger
- Rebecca Oxley
- Ricky Punzalan
- Mega M Subramaniam
The iSchool also is home to iDiversity, an organization for iSchool students, faculty, staff, and alumni interested in inclusion information practice and diversification of the information professions. iDiversity hosts a range of talks and events on these topics. You can follow iDiversity on Twitter at @iDiversityUMD, and #iDiversity. If you want to contact iDiversity, their email is iDiversity.UMD@gmail.com.
For any questions or suggestions about diversity and inclusion efforts at the College, please contact Dr. Paul T. Jaeger, the iSchool’s Diversity Officer, at 301-405-1741 or firstname.lastname@example.org.