New Courses for 2020-2021

Course offered 2020-2021

In addition to our regular courses, we will be offering two new courses during the 2020-2021 academic year:

INF 1000 Digital Competency (1 credit): Digital competency is critical for academic, professional, and personal success. This introductory course provides students with a core set of understandings, skills, and behaviors related to information and digital literacies.

INF 4950 Topics in Information Studies: Artificial Intelligence and the Apocalyptic Imagination (2 credits): Technologies of artificial intelligence inspire a range of hopes and fears about the future. The most extreme aspirations and anxieties about AI often take the form of popular narratives that draw from Christian apocalyptic categories. This course explores narratives about AI, faith, and the future by engaging the apocalyptic imagination in the Bible and in films about AI.

These courses may be taken independently or as electives for the minor.

Information Studies Faculty Publication

With SPU colleagues Bruce Baker (Business) and Mike Langford (Theology), director and associate professor of Information Studies Michael Paulus recently published an article in Christian Scholar’s Review titled “A Framework for DigitalWisdom in Higher Education.”

The abstract reads:

Institutions of higher education have a crucial role and responsibility at this moment of technological change to form people who will flourish in our so-called digital age. The speed with which digital information and communication technologies have permeated our lives has left little time for critical reflection on how we may intentionally integrate them into our lives. Regardless of when we were born or the depth of our technological expertise, we are all of us digitally naïve. Individually and collectively, we are still learning how to use new and emerging digital technologies well and wisely. This essay presents a framework that includes theological principles, cultural critiques, and formative practices that can help us—as both educators and learners—move from a position of digital naiveté toward one of digital wisdom.

Michael J. Paulus, Jr., Bruce D. Baker, and Michael D. Langford, Christian Scholar’s Review XLIX:1 (Fall 2019): 43-61, available from

Paulus, Baker, and Langford regularly post reflections on theology and technology in the digital age at the Patheos site Digital Wisdom.

Our First Information Studies Graduates!

From “Meet the Class of 2019“:

Richie Gamiño, Abbe Blank, and Mary Christensen are the first students to graduate with the new minor in information studies. Their service learning project involved reviewing grant applications with the City of Seattle, which helped distribute $320,000 to organizations trying to address underserved populations and the “digital divide.”

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.