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?
Access to information is a fundamental right enshrined in the universal declaration of human rights. Information is the cornerstone of good governance, efficient and equitable public administration, and the exercise of rights. Importantly, access to information helps to ensure that citizens have a more meaningful voice for community engagement and decision-making. However, often in our societies it is the most vulnerable and marginalized populations who suffer the greatest due to limited access to information. Even in countries with statutory rights to information, it appears that regardless of socio-economic levels, women and marginalized populations are less likely to receive and access information. As various tools are applied to address the web of adversities facing marginalized persons and women - poverty, illiteracy, violence and inadequate opportunities for quality participation - insufficient focus has been paid to the power that information can play in confronting these myriad challenges.