INF 385T Special Topics in Information Science : Digital Equity, Justice, Opportunity, and Inclusion
Cross-listing of P A 388L hosted by the LBJ School of Public Affairs.
Explore the potential value that post-positivist research perspectives bring to critically examining issues like digital exclusion that are prefigured by underlying systemic/structural inequities. Students will also learn how philanthropic grantmaking programs can be designed to support solutions to root causes that issues like digital inequality reveal to us.
The global COVID-19 pandemic has required a transformative shift in the way we approach our day-to-day lives, meaning that previously in-person activities have been relocated into the existing ‘online’ world. This change has made visible pre-existing systemic and structural disparities exacerbated by unavailable, unaffordable, or difficult to use information and communication technology (ICT) devices and services that have become essential for participation in society, be that economic, educational, social, spatial, cultural, political, or institutional. Such ICT-related disparities have been characterized variably over time since the 1990s as a digital divide or as digital inequality, digital exclusion, or information poverty. Proposed solutions have also been characterized in a variety of ways, for example, as digital inclusion, digital empowerment, digital opportunity, digital equity, open data, digital literacy, digital citizenship, broadband for all, or digital/data justice. Examining reasons for periodic shifts in the framing of both problems and solutions to ICT-related challenges necessitates situating inquiry within theoretical perspectives in policy analysis that have been endorsed by the European Consortium for Political Research (ECPR). Students will explore the potential value that these post-positivist perspectives, which include the Argumentative Turn, Discourse Analysis, Interpretive Methods, Deliberative Policy Analysis, and Poststructuralist Policy Analysis, bring to critically examining issues like digital exclusion that are prefigured by underlying systemic/structural inequities. Students will also learn how philanthropic grantmaking programs can be designed to support solutions to root causes that issues like digital inequality reveal to us. Philanthropy in this context is defined broadly as “the desire to promote the welfare of others”. Instructional Method The instructional method follows a flipped learning design with the explicit intention to democratize the learning environment by shifting the structure of the classroom from one that is expert/teacher-oriented to one that is student-centered. The goal is to encourage the kind of intellectual risk-taking, critical thinking and inquiry, discovery, and questioning that is required to address complex issues like digital equity, justice, opportunity, and inclusion. And because the content of this course deals with issues of systemic/structural inequality, a flipped classroom hopefully encourages students to experience what democratizing power sharing feels like, and by extension, to imagine this same dynamic in the context of policymaking and grantmaking, so that we may address root causes of social problems rather than just their symptoms. This instructional method for a graduate seminar is not for everyone, however. For example, it will not be a good fit if, for whatever reasons, at least 3 or more of the following apply: · You will not be able to devote at least 3 hours to preparation outside of class each week. · You prefer to learn primarily from lectures. · You will not be able to complete short weekly writing assignments. · You do not wish to talk, interact, discuss, or present in class. · Reading theoretical/philosophical works does not appeal to you. · You do not find being challenged in your methods of reasoning comfortable. · Collaborative learning, peer review, or working at times in pairs or student teams of 3-4 does not appeal to you. · You will need to miss at least one or more classes, possibly including the first one, for a reason other than an unexpected illness or emergency. · You typically postpone completing preparation assignments until the afternoon or evening before class.
Restricted to graduate degree seekers in the School of Information during registration periods 1 and 2. Remaining seats will be made available to outside students on January 13th. In the meantime, interested non-iSchool students may request a seat reservation by completing this Registration Support Questionnaire.