School of Information Sciences

The iSchool celebrates fourth year of iSchool Inclusion Institute (i3)


5/14/2014

The University of Pittsburgh’s School of Information Sciences (iSchool) is excited to welcome our 2014 iSchool Inclusion Institute (i3) scholars on Sunday, June 1. This marks the fourth year that a new cohort of scholars will be introduced to the information sciences through the year-long i3 program hosted on Pitt’s campus.

In 2010, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation awarded a $600,000 grant to support the creation of the i3 program, designed to encourage students from underrepresented populations to consider academic and professional opportunities in the information sciences. Principal Investigators Dean Ronald L. Larsen and Assistant Professor James “Kip” Currier have supervised the growth of the program with the assistance of i3 Project Director, Michael Depew. In 2013, Assistant Professor Brian Beaton was added to the project as a Co-Principal Investigator to provide additional support and guidance.

Dean Larsen expressed the “need to proactively encourage students from underrepresented groups to join the Information professions and the faculty of iSchools” as part of his motivation for writing the initial planning grant, noting “A dearth of faculty members and students from underrepresented groups limits the perspectives and creativity that are needed to address the complex and multifaceted issues confronting society in its management and use of information.”

Since the program’s inception, the iSchool has hosted 60 students in three cohorts from 2011 to 2013. Scholars from the first three cohorts represented a diverse array of disciplinary backgrounds ranging from English literature and applied mathematics to sociology and computer science. This year’s cohort remains academically diverse, including 24 students majoring in a variety of fields such as business, digital communications, computer engineering, political science, and psychology among others.
The early success of i3 can be assessed along multiple measures. Of the 60 students who have participated in the program, 10 are currently enrolled in master’s programs, one in a PhD program, and 15 have applied for admission to one or more fellow iSchools. The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation demonstrated its continued support for the project with a second three-year award ($819,000) in 2013 for the iSchool at Pitt to continue to develop and host the i3 program.

This year i3 has expanded and strengthened its curriculum with two, two-week teaching modules. For the first time since its inception in 2011, Pitt will host four PhD Teaching Fellows from partner iSchools to teach modules on research design and programming. All four of the i3 PhD Teaching Fellows are members of underrepresented populations in the information sciences and will have the opportunity to network with, and be mentored by, internationally renowned iSchool faculty.

In addition to welcoming the new 2014 i3 Scholars, the iSchool looks forward to the return of the 2013 cohort for its Concluding Institute. The Concluding Institute is held during the final two weeks of June and is considered a capstone for students after completing their year-long, team research project. Last year, i3 scholars worked on a variety of projects, investigating psychological incentives to donate to crowdsourced online campaigns, Latina representation in STEM fields, environmental life-cycle analyses of the iPhone, users’ perception of privacy settings in social media platforms, and an ethnographic study of gaming culture in massively multiplayer online games (MMOGs). We eagerly anticipate the results of their work!

For more information about the 2014 i3 program, please visit: www.ischool-inclusion.org.

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