A new two-year Bachelor of Information (BI) degree program at the Faculty of Information may begin in September 2019, pending approval and confirmation by Governing Council’s Academic Board and Executive Committee, respectively. The proposal was positively reviewed by the Academic Policy and Programs Committee of Governing Council on January 11.

The new BI program at the Faculty of Information, also called the iSchool, will be a two-year second-entry professional undergraduate degree program consisting of 11 credits. Students are expected to apply during their second year of first-entry undergraduate studies.

The BI will combine social science, humanities, and computer science to tackle the study of a data-intensive society. According to the proposal, “Students will study how data is generated, exchanged, transformed, deployed, and used, and the way that these processes mediate and are mediated by cultural, legal, economic, and technical structures and institutions.”

Its point of difference from other iSchool programs is its broad focus on three core areas: techniques of digital practice, how information practice is organized at many social and political scales, and information, power, and culture. The proposal also notes a strong focus on social justice.

Wendy Duff, a professor and Dean of the iSchool, said that the BI will mix lectures, studio courses, and a practicum. “You’re learning skills, but you’re also reflecting on what you’re learning in those large classes,” she said. “Then you take that knowledge and skills that you learned and then you go do another course.”

Duff said that the practicum part of the program will give students real workplace experience as they head into their second year. A large focus of the program is giving students both the theoretical and hands-on knowledge that will prepare them for employment in fields such as web publishing, interactive media design, and business. As the proposal states, “We aim to produce graduates who can not only understand, but also make and do.”

The structure and design of the new program relied on feedback from students, external reviewers from two different universities, and faculties like Arts & Science and the Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape and Design.

The university plans to accept 25 students at first, increasing the number admitted per year to 100 in 2023. At the moment, the university is in the process of searching for two teaching stream positions and one tenure stream position. The faculty is also developing scholarships and bursaries specific to this program.

The proposal will go before Governing Council’s Academic Board for approval on January 25 and the Executive Committee for confirmation on February 6.