Course Description


This course provides an introduction to the ways that information and information processes shape and are shaped by society. In particular, it examines the social, institutional, political, legal, and economic roles of information and knowledge in public life, including how forms of new media, new distribution channels and new delivery systems are affecting traditional means of creating and disseminating information. We also discuss changes that stem from developments in the information environment at the individual, organizational and societal level.


Topics to be covered over the course of the semester include: the politics, ethics, and values of information; information as an economic phenomenon; the institutional structure of knowledge and cultural production; and the role of information professionals, mediators and users in these activities.

Goals and Objectives

This course aims to provide students with opportunities to:
  • Take a thematic approach to understanding the nature and role of information in both private and public spheres; 
  • Create a contextual framework within which to analyze the major social issues and developments associated with information creation, dissemination and use; 
  • Consider the various perspectives that characterize current policy discussions on those issues as well as alternative interpretations to conventional wisdom.


The class will meet for at least two hours each week to engage in a seminar-style lecture, which will include in-class discussions, some in-class activities and case studies. On their own time, students must complete weekly course readings and written assignments. Note that on the timetable, three hours have been blocked off for this course, allowing for lecture time to occasionally spill over past the two hour mark, as well as providing a space for informal group discussions, working on assignments, meeting with classmates, or meeting with the professor. 

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