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North American schools of library and information science (LIS) have traditionally and overwhelmingly focused on providing professional graduate education to practitioners, researchers, and educators in the information sciences and technology. A few schools pioneered undergraduate programs two or more decades ago, but rapid growth in the number of undergraduate programs housed within or closely affiliated with LIS schools began about a decade ago. In addition, several important undergraduate programs have been developed that are not affiliated with American Library Association-accredited programs; some of these programs are administered by organizations affiliated with the iSchools movement. This panel will provide an opportunity for open discussion of how these undergraduate programs are transforming undergraduate students and how their host schools are also being transformed by the presence of these programs.

The format of this panel will promote interaction between the panelists, between the audience and the panelists, and between those present at the session and Web users. Prior to the conference, the moderators will create a public Web site (using an open source, Web 2.0-enabled content management system) to present and capture information related to the session. Thematic areas will provide the public with the ability to post comments before, during, and after the session.

As audience members arrive, they will receive a handout summarizing characteristics of existing undergraduate programs, including those represented by the panelists. By providing background details about the undergraduate programs, the handout will simultaneously allow audience members to get a sense of the variety among the programs and allow the panelists to focus on issue discussion. These descriptions will also be available on the Web site prior to the conference.

The session will also tap into the collective knowledge of the audience regarding the current and potential roles for undergraduate LIS / informatics education. Upon arrival at the session, audience members will be encouraged to either enter contributions to the Web site during the session or use a paper form, provided at the session, to note ideas they would like to share. If they give their permission, the moderators will transcribe written comments to the Web site for dissemination, with attribution.

After a brief moderators' introduction, each panelist will make a brief opening statement. Moderators will ask the panelists to respond to questions such as the following:

  • What are key similarities and differences between the graduate and undergraduate programs in your unit, including student goals, instructional goals, course topics and content, and student demographics?
  • How do you describe or talk about your program so that students, faculty, and administrators find it compelling? How do you express your program's goals?
  • Does your program feel like it fits as a coherent part of your unit, or does it feel like a forced marriage? In either case, why? To what degree do full-time faculty, part-time instructors, and teaching assistants teach undergraduate courses?
  • What are the positive impacts that your current program has on your students, your own unit (school, department, or college), your parent college (if applicable), your university, or the greater community?
  • Is there a need for LIS and iSchools to work together to deliver consistent or standard undergraduate programs, either in part or in total?

In the final section of the session, the audience will be asked to comment and / or pose questions to the panel that bear upon their own situations as employers, entrepreneurs, educators, administrators, and students.