Owing to the scope and pace of change, society has become increasingly knowledge-based so that higher learning and research now act as essential components of cultural, socio-economic and environmentally sustainable development of individuals, communities and nations. In this environment, it is essential that higher learning and knowledge creation involve effective partnerships among academic and non-academic learning institutions and communities to create and apply learning and knowledge with stakeholders that are managing and creating sustainable development initiatives. Growing concern regarding the importance of the contribution that higher education institutions make to society has aroused increasing debate about their relevance and credibility amid escalating social problems. An underlying premise of community engagement is the understanding that not all knowledge and expertise resides in the academy, and that both expertise and great learning opportunities in teaching and scholarship also reside in non-academic settings.
This conference will explore how LIS educators and researchers can develop curricula, programs, and research activities that enable active partnerships with communities and civil society to manage and create change. How can LIS programs increase opportunities for experiential, service oriented, and community engaged student learning? How can we develop further collaboration between LIS programs and their larger communities (local, regional/ state, national, global) for the mutually beneficial exchange of knowledge and resources in a context of partnership and reciprocity?
Many library and information science (LIS) programs offer a foundations course as part of the curriculum. Sometimes, however, both students and instructors struggle with the course; students because it is frequently perceived as the “intro” course that they must “get through” and instructors because it can be a very difficult course to teach as it must address many areas that are often not specific to one faculty member’s expertise. Common misperceptions by students include the idea that it is comprised of an unconnected mishmash of topics, contains nothing but theory and boring historical facts, and has no practical components or relevance to their future work. Given these negative perceptions and teaching difficulties it is not surprising that some programs have opted to do away with the course altogether. Yet, given the right circumstances, this course can go a long way to helping new students gain vital knowledge and understanding of, for what is for the vast majority of them, a completely new discipline. What is needed is a framework that helps instructors not only to frame the content in a way that makes it meaningful and relevant to students but also helps to further motivate learning by conveying the content in a compelling manner. The community of practice (CoP) learning framework can provide this much-needed guidance.