Newsletter of the Association of Library and Information Science Students (ALISS)




 title of the newsletter: The Silverfish


June 2004

Vol VIII Issue V

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Why Informatics?
An Overview of the iSchool’s Bachelor of Science in Informatics Program

By Dyan Smith Chandler, MLIS Evening
The science of Informatics concerns the study of information systems, and the major components that make up these systems: people, information, and technology. Since Autumn of 2000, we have had a Bachelor of Science in Informatics degree program here at the iSchool. The “people” component is quite significant in our Informatics program, as it confirms once again the iSchool’s commitment to the human-centered study of information.

As part of the Informatics program, students look at a wide range of information systems, from the simple and small-scale to the highly complex and large-scale. They analyze information policy, organizational management of information, and information behavior. They practice designing information systems from the user perspective. And they develop systems for "representing, classifying, and retrieving information," according to the program's website.

In addition to prerequisites and General Education requirements, the Informatics degree program consists of a core set of courses, organized into “strands.” Students must complete 30 credits in the Human-Centered Strand, which consists of courses focusing on user-oriented design, information needs and behavior, and information systems from the human perspective. They must also complete 18 credits worth of courses in the Technical Strand, which covers topics such as networking, information retrieval systems, database design and theory, and computer programming. The remainder of coursework required for a BS in Informatics includes 12 credits of electives and an 8-credit senior-year Capstone project.

Choosing between two focuses—user-centered research or interactive system design—senior-year Informatics majors work with real-life clients to complete their Capstone projects. The Capstone is an independent research project, giving students the opportunity to focus on their individual interests and specialties. While each project is unique, they all involve the common elements of problem identification, methodology analysis, and development/implementation of a solution. At the end of Spring quarter each year, the students share their Capstone findings by formally presenting their projects to the iSchool community.

Upon graduation, Informatics majors leave the iSchool with a diverse skill set designed to prepare them for information technology jobs in many fields. Throughout their studies, they become experts in information systems, database design and development, human-computer interface design, internet browsing and searching, network design, information resource management, and information policy and ethics. With this background in human-centered approach to technology, they become strong candidates for jobs in fields such as database development, web design & development, network management, systems analysis, interface design, and information policy analysis.

Certainly, we’ve only just begun to cover the details of this program. If you’d like more information, you can e-mail the department at, call 206-543-1794, or stop by the Student Services Office at 470 Mary Gates Hall.

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