Discussing Digital Equity and Inclusion in Seattle

Earlier this week the SPU Information Studies program, with support from the Friends of the SPU Library, hosted a conversation about digital equity and inclusion in Seattle.

The panel emerged out of the program’s Information and Society class, taught by Kristen Hoffman and Liz Gruchala-Gilbert, which provided students with the opportunity to review applications to Seattle’s Technology Matching Fund.

SPU’s student newspaper, The Falcon, reported on the panel and quoted one of our students: “This is what we have been discussing all year. Digital equity and how A.I. is effecting people who can’t afford technology … how it targets them more than people who are middle class.”

In addition to engaging an important conversation for our community, the panel provided a nice glimpse into the Information Studies program at SPU.

Information Studies Program Sponsors Panel on Digital Equity and Inclusion in Seattle

Seattle is known as a place of technological innovation, but many residents do not have access to the technology or skills needed to participate fully in our digital society. Come hear what the City of Seattle and other organizations are doing to close divides related to digital access and digital literacy.

Panel members:

David Keyes
Digital Equity Program Manager, City of Seattle

Steven Maheshwary
Chair of the Seattle Community Technology Advisory Board and Board Advisor for DemocracyLab

Minh-Duc Nguyen
Executive Director, Helping Link

Marcellus Turner
Executive Director and Chief Librarian, The Seattle Public Library

Stacey Wedlake
Research Coordinator and Analyst, Technology and Social Change Group at the University of Washington Information School

Moderated by Michael Paulus
University Librarian, Assistant Provost for Educational Technology, and Director of Information Studies, Seattle Pacific University

This panel emerged out of service-learning work instructors and students in INF 3500 Information and Society are doing with Seattle’s digital equity program.

New Digital Wisdom Blog

SPU professors Michael Paulus (Library and Information Studies), Bruce Baker (School of Business, Government, and Economics), and Mike Langford (School of Theology) have launched a new Patheos blog called Digital Wisdom.

Their first post explains how they hope with this blog to bring technology into conversation with theology so that our lives may be enhanced by both.

Paulus’s first post explores how the information revolution reveals the importance of information and information technologies for understanding who we are and what constitutes reality.

Digital Literacy Framework

A recent report from the Pew Research Center, “The Future of Truth and Misinformation Online,” showed experts “evenly split on whether the coming decade will see a reduction in false and misleading narratives online.” While 51 percent of these experts do not expect the information environment to improve, 49 percent were more hopeful. Members of this latter group acknowledged that “misinformation and bad actors have always existed but have eventually been marginalized by smart people and processes,” and they “believe better information literacy among citizens will enable people to judge the veracity of material content and eventually raise the tone of discourse.”

Librarians have taught information literacy and related content at SPU for decades and currently teach over 200 class sessions each year. Last year, as part of the University’s new writing program, librarians began teaching embedded research sessions within disciplinary writing seminars. In addition to linking writing and research literacies, the Library has been evolving its instruction program and services to include digital literacies. New competencies in information technology literacy, digital participation, and digital scholarship now supplement information literacy. And each competency includes attention to the cultivation of reflective and ethical dispositions. Evaluations of instruction sessions, writing courses, and library programs reveal the relevance of teaching information and digital literacies for student success and, we believe, holistic flourishing beyond college.

Information Studies Minor Announcement

As information and communication technologies (ICTs) continue to change our lives and world, the study of information is becoming increasingly important. To further respond to the need for more reflective, critical, and ethical engagement with information and ICTs, the Library will begin offering a minor in Information Studies next year. Information Studies explores the creation, dynamics, management, and use of information and ICTs and examines the relationships between people, information, and technology. This new minor provides a foundation for information-related professions, as well as relevant knowledge and skills for careers in a variety of fields, and will help prepare students to thrive academically, professionally, and spiritually in our information society.

This minor, designed to support and supplement related programs in the arts, sciences, and professions, creates a new curricular space at SPU for understanding and shaping our present information age. The program consists of three core courses: “Information and Attention,” which considers the nature of information, attention, and agency; “Digital Literacy and Life,” which explores the digital dimension of our lives; and “Information and Society,” a service-learning course examining information challenges in Seattle. The minor also includes electives drawn from other disciplines such as art, computer science, history, and philosophy and an integrative independent research project or internship. While there are similar programs at other schools, this will be a unique offering for a Christian university.