The goal of the UT Austin iSchool is to be the premier research and education program for the 21st century field of information, where we are changing the future by engaging the present and preserving the past. Research and teaching at the iSchool changes the ways that we interact with information and technology, changes how information can make the world a better and fairer place, and changes the ways we protect and preserve our collective memory.
Information serves humanity. At the School of Information, we are committed to making a positive difference in people’s lives through excellence in research, teaching, and public engagement. We understand that information technologies must serve the needs of people, and that access to reliable information is essential to a functioning civil society. Information systems must be designed to augment and enhance human and organizational capabilities; doing so requires bringing people into the process from the start. All emerging technologies raise ethical and social issues that require study, research, and intervention. Multidisciplinary and transdisciplinary approaches offer the best hope for building information systems and shaping information practices that will serve the public interest.
We live in the Information Age, offering unprecedented opportunities but also unmatched threats and challenges. Rigorous research is required to ensure that we understand the scope of the emerging challenges, and build our responses using the best data and evidence available.
Examples of some of the big questions being addressed at the School of Information include:
- How can we design information technologies, large and small, that have human values and social justice embedded in their design? How can we advance our understanding of how we experience information with research that uses cutting edge behavioral, psychological, social, and neurological methods? What are the best practices that will improve user experiences and user interfaces? How can emerging technologies such as AI / artificial intelligence be designed to serve the public good?
- The amount of data produced in the world doubles approximately every 15 months, and while computing technology has largely kept up with these staggering increases in the amount of information available, fundamental human perception and cognition have not changed in the tens of thousands of years. If human beings cannot gain access to information and process it, even the best practices of indexing, categorizing, organizing, curating, archiving, preserving, and conserving it are of no value. Our research is driven by concerns with how to create, store, and present information in a way such that human beings might gain access to it, process it, and experience it.
- What are the innovations in memory institutions such as libraries, museums, and archives that will ensure that we all have access to knowledge, information, and data that enhances our lives, our families, and our communities? What emerging skills and knowledge do information professionals such as librarians, archivists, and curators need to stay at the forefront of their professions, and how can we ensure our students and alumni are among the most advanced professionals and leaders in their fields?
- What information will we leave to the future? Will we bequeath them a rich record of the human endeavor, carefully archived, conserved, and made available? We might also leave a vast trove of data, but one which is so full of misinformation, incomplete or misleading data, and so little interoperability that it becomes too difficult or impossible to use. Or will we leave almost no record, as the digital traces stored today are lost when systems are upgraded, formats change, and the ability to use legacy information artifacts degrades? The future requires us to address these challenges head-on today, and we are doing so at Texas.
Cooperation and engagement at UT, within Austin, across the state of Texas, nationally, and globally
UT Austin one of the world’s leading research universities with an internationally distinguished faculty, and the School of Information is a leader among our peers.
The UT Austin iSchool is a founding member of the international iSchools movement, and has a long history of interdisciplinary scholarship and research focused on the human, social, cultural, and technical aspects of information. Our program is consistently ranked among the top programs in information internationally.
iSchool faculty are leaders in the University of Texas Bridging Barriers Good Systems project. This major multi-disciplinary, multi-year, multi-million dollar cross-campus grand challenge recognizes that artificial intelligence is changing the way we live and work — often, for the better — but it has the potential to be harmful in ways we fail to predict. Designing AI technologies that benefit society is our grand challenge.
Texas Computing is a cross-university collaboration that brings together exceptional faculty, unique interdisciplinary programs, and a large talented pool of students to create opportunities for learning and research unrivaled in the world. The School of Information is a founding member of the Texas Computing initiative.
The Public Interest Technology – University Network (PIT-UN, is a national effort to grow a new generation of civic-minded technologists. The University of Texas is a charter member of PIT-UN, and is represented in the network by the iSchool.
Beyond these major programmatic collaborations, iSchool faculty, staff, and students collaborate with colleagues across the university, with firms, non-profit agencies, and governmental organizations in Austin and beyond, and with researchers and institutions world-wide. We welcome additional opportunities to collaborate on research, training, education, and outreach: please get in touch!