Regents approve new undergraduate degree in information
The Board of Regents approved the university's first undergraduate degree in information at its meeting Thursday. The School of Information (SI) will offer the bachelor's degree in information beginning in fall 2014 pending its approval at the June meeting of the Presidents Council, State Universities of Michigan.
"This new degree will be the first of its kind in the nation," SI Dean Jeffrey MacKie-Mason said. "Information itself will be the central object of study, using a combination of social, behavioral and technological sciences. This will be an interdisciplinary degree in the tradition of the liberal arts and natural and technology sciences, rather than a professional or vocational program."
The school currently offers a professional master's degree program, a doctoral degree, and a master's degree in health informatics through a joint program with the School of Public Health. The undergraduate degree will be the first offered by SI since its founding in 1996.
"We are uniquely positioned to offer this degree and do it well," MacKie-Mason said. "The huge impact of the digital revolution has touched all our lives. It has affected the way we conduct business, make personal health decisions, engage in civic discourse, elect leaders, and raise our families. Yet our traditional disciplines of study haven't addressed this subject in a unified way.
"The new degree will be distinctive because the core elements of the curriculum — including math, communications, statistics and history — will be designed and delivered by a single faculty whose central object of study is information."
"We will enable students to examine any subject — whether it's a great work of literature or a scientific breakthrough — through an 'information lens,'" said Erin Krupka, assistant professor of information and a member of the task force that designed the new program. "We will be teaching students how to critically evaluate and navigate the information that surrounds them, to make good choices in their personal, professional, and civic lives."
Upon graduation, students will be prepared for jobs in virtually any field, including science, business, government, technology, education, entertainment, health care, administration and policy. Within these fields, graduates may find positions such as information architects, health informationists, communications specialists, management analysts, online community managers, and others not even imagined yet.
The degree will be open to juniors and seniors at U-M and to transfer students. Depending on the track chosen, students will graduate with either a Bachelor of Science or a Bachelor of Arts degree in information.
There also will be a wide range of information classes for first- and second-year students, who will be able to sample the subject area and decide if they will pursue the information degree. Students may begin applying to the degree in 2013 for enrollment in fall 2014.