Office of the Vice President for Global Communications

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

New fund to help School of Information students work on global problems

Working on a smartphone application to book train tickets for Mumbai local trains. Designing a language learning application for deaf students in India. Creating an online repository for consultation for human rights for a Bangalore lawyers collective.

These are just some of the projects U-M students will be able to work on, thanks to a $1.8 million fund from the Office of the Provost for the Global Information Engagement Program at the School of Information. As part of the program, up to 18 students will spend eight weeks in India during summer 2014.

"The School of Information has strong ties with India, and our new Global Information Engagement Program will allow our students to strengthen that bond with hands-on experience, solving problems and serving the global community even before they graduate," said SI Dean Jeffrey MacKie-Mason.

Students selected for the program will self-organize in groups of two to four. They will primarily come from SI, but the teams are able to and encouraged to recruit graduate students from other U-M programs to round out skill sets.

Once projects and teams are finalized, students will meet throughout the winter term to prepare before traveling to India next summer to work on their projects.

"Once the student groups choose their projects, we will work with each team so they will have a customized training program tailored to their projects," said Joyojeet Pal, assistant professor of information and the faculty lead in the program. "Before the students go to India, they would have already studied the problem for a few months."

Student groups will have about eight weeks to complete their work, which could range from archiving, user interface design, developing mobile applications or creating information repositories. They will receive six academic credits for their work, fulfill the school's practical experience requirement, and be eligible for an additional credit if they choose to refine or develop their projects in the fall.

"We want to encourage students' creativity, but more importantly, we want them to own their work, " Pal said.

The Global Information Engagement Program is accepting applications for next summer's inaugural program. The deadline for the application is Oct. 15, 2013. More information is available at the program's web page.