It is customary that the department head say a few brief words of greeting. But because our department – and indeed the whole field – is new, I feel that it may be helpful if I give a more expanded background, to help potential students to decide if our program suits their interests.
The Main Idea -- iSchool
The Department of Knowledge and Information Management is a young department founded in the format of information schools, known as iSchools. As I see it, the ultimate goal of the iSchools is to forge a new academic discipline around the concept of information. Many existing disciplines study one or another aspect of information – psychologists study how we remember information, sociologists study what information we share with others, finance researchers study the effect of information on stock markets, computer scientists study how information travels through a network, and so on. But there is – or was -- no academic field dedicated to the study of information per se, in all its aspects, with its own theories. To be clear, the ultimate goal is not to study bits and pieces of psychology, sociology, computer science, etc., but by building on those fields as they relate to information, to forge a new discipline with new theories for looking at information. That is the idea behind the iSchool movement of which we are a part.
Our MA and PhD Programs
What exactly does one study? The studies are multidisciplinary, but there are two main branches. One branch is about humans’ information-creating behavior, such as their behavior when composing, sharing, and seeking information, as well as behavior that creates data without the person’s realizing, e.g. the smarthphone’s GPS record of everywhere you’ve been. All these behaviors create information. The second branch is about methods for analyzing information -- Data Science and related areas of information engineering and presentation. Of course, the two branches are related, as a good understanding of the human processes that are responsible for creating data helps us to analyze and interpret it, and vice versa. The MA program has some flexibility to allow students to emphasize one of these two main branches. The two are complemented by other topics such as economic, and legal and ethical aspects of information.
We attribute supreme importance to research. The curriculum is anchored in theory but regularly refers to current phenomena and uses real datasets. Our faculty members are experts in their field who are also driven by a sincere desire to help train professionals and researchers. We encourage students to write a thesis and become part of our research community. Students interested in a more practical emphasis can choose instead to do practicum in a variety of organizations; we accompany them throughout the process.
We strive to provide a particularly congenial environment, which is important for successfully coping with the significant challenge posed by the studies. We encourage mutual assistance and group work. In addition to the formal school setting, the department’s students and lecturers participate in social media (such as our Facebook group) to communicate, and to view the job offers that frequently find their way to us. The family atmosphere, the unmediated communication afforded by social media, and the encounters in the university classrooms and hallways result in collaborations, job opportunities, and research placements. We involve our students in the collaborations we have with businesses, government, non-profits, and other universities in Israel and abroad.
The degree prepares students for a number of clearly defined careers, in areas such as online branding, social media engagement, data scientist, Website content manager, information architect, archivist, economic development policy analyst, data visualization, choice architecture, online education, online competitive intelligence, and others. Due to the combination of practical skills and broad understanding of information behavior, our program also provides an excellent background for working at an Internet startup. All these careers apply equally to non-profits as well as in for-profit firms. Our program can advance careers that are not as obviously information-related, such as attorneys who face information-related litigation, managers who want to encourage cooperation and information sharing among employees, and endless other positions that are dealing with information and Internet-related issues.
In summary, we have created a department with a rich and challenging curriculum to study an exciting new field, in a supportive ambiance. Please contact us with any inquiry.
Dr. David Bodoff
Head of the Department of Knowledge and Information Management