The School of Information (iSchool) at The University of Texas at Austin is pleased to announce the launch of a new undergraduate degree program in Informatics in the fall of 2021. While the iSchool has offered an undergraduate minor option in addition to its graduate degree programs in Information Studies for many years, the launch of the new Informatics program offers undergraduate students an exciting opportunity to now earn a bachelor’s degree from the school.
Dean Eric T. Meyer expressed the enthusiasm within the School and across UT Austin for the new degree. “In our information-centric world, it is important that students whose interests lie in the connections among humans, technology innovation, and information have a program like our new Informatics degree to pursue those interests. The faculty and staff within the iSchool are looking forward to sharing their passion for informatics with our new undergraduate students, and we are expecting great things from them,” Meyer said. “I also want to acknowledge that the support for this program from the Provost and all the deans, faculty, and staff across UT Austin, from the UT System Board of Regents, and from the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board has been tremendous.”
Students who enroll in the iSchool’s interdisciplinary undergraduate program can choose to pursue either a Bachelor of Arts (BA) or a Bachelor of Science in Informatics (BSI) degree and select from six major concentrations: human-centered data science and user experience (UX) design will be the first concentrations to launch, then social justice informatics, health informatics, cultural heritage informatics, and social informatics will be offered in the coming years. “This Informatics program is the perfect opportunity for students to earn a degree in a field that intersects with every aspect of the digital world we live in,” said Natasha Saldaña, the iSchool’s Undergraduate Program Coordinator. “iSchoolers graduate prepared to use their training in informatics to change the world.”
Indeed, informatics—the study, design, and application of computer and information technology from a user-centered perspective—is a unique discipline with a wide-ranging impact on society, according to Jeffery Willett, the Undergraduate Academic Advisor at the iSchool. “Our program will prepare students to secure, analyze, design, and implement information while also providing them with strong people-focused skills,” he said. “In other words, we go beyond educating our students in technical fluency by equally emphasizing social justice, equity, and the importance of a people-first approach to information and technology.”
Ken Fleischmann, Professor and Director of Undergraduate Studies at the School of Information, said, "We have never been more reliant on information technologies, nor more aware of the potential downsides of disinformation, cybersecurity risks, algorithmic bias, and digital inequality. We need to leverage the power of information to do good in the world, which requires innovative educational programs. The iSchool’s new undergraduate major in Informatics will prepare students for high-tech careers where they can design more user-centered information technologies, leverage data to benefit society and serve the public interest, and design partnerships between humans and artificial intelligence-based technologies that respect human rights and values and create a more equitable and just society.”