Informatics is the emerging discipline that envisions information technology design and use in terms that include its larger institutional, social, cultural, and cognitive dimensions. As information technology is applied to an ever-widening variety of contexts, including work, home, shopping, and public spaces, these new applications require a corresponding shift in the ability of information professionals to design, manage and evaluate information services.
Informatics is premised on the observation that successful design and integration of information technologies into society requires a sophisticated understanding of information seeking and use, metadata, user-centered design, electronic information genres, and how information technologies function as vehicles of power and social action. Students who complete the Informatics specialization will thus be well equipped to design modern information services, including digital libraries and repositories, metadata services, user training and relations, technical information retrieval, in a wide variety of institutional contexts, whether that be within libraries, archives, electronic media and publishing, cultural heritage institutions, standardization organizations, government, non-profits, or online businesses.
The Informatics specialization integrates educational offerings with both practical, in-the-field components and research opportunities. Courses explore theories of information-seeking behavior and information use; theoretical foundations and diverse approaches (e.g., ethnographic, participatory, user-centered) to information system design; human-computer interaction; design of metadata schemas for the provision of electronic services; database design and management; and information policy, including intellectual property, informational privacy and internet governance.
Some courses within the Informatics specialization may require that students have completed a computer programming course. Informatics students will be expected to take as their research methods requirement IS 282, "Principles of Information Systems Analysis and Design" as well as other core requirements and recommended electives in Library and Archival Studies. In addition, students will be encouraged to take cognate courses outside the Department, in Moving Image Archival Studies, Computer Science, Electrical Engineering, Law, Music, Biology, Geography, Cybernetics, Economics, Psychology, Anthropology, Ethnic studies, Management and/or any program which may usefully complement informatics training with a focus on particular communities, organizational settings, or subject content.
Students in the informatics specialization are strongly encouraged to avail themselves of departmentally approved internship and field experience opportunities available at over 250 internships in the Southern California area. Internship sites include high-tech firms, information service providers, libraries, archives, and information centers in a wide array of organizations including the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Dreamworks SKG, Symantec, the Getty Research Institute, Amgen, Infotrieve, the Superior Court of Los Angeles County, the Center for Nonprofit Management, and the Cedars-Sinai Information Center. Several internships are also available within UCLA, including the Fowler Museum for Cultural History, the California Center for Population Research, the Social Science Data Archive, and others. Students also are able to participate in other internship programs, nationally and internationally.
Informatics students may also choose to complement their coursework with research experience. IS faculty associated with the Informatics specialization have obtained funding from prestigious agencies, including the National Science Foundation, the National Historical Publications and Records Commission, France's Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, and others, to conduct research in the areas of digital preservation of authentic records (www.gseis.ucla.edu/us-interpares), digital library design, implementation and evaluation (is.gseis.ucla.edu/adept), information as evidence (www.gseis.ucla.edu/cie), and embedded networked sensing (www.cens.ucla.edu).
Examples of student emphases within the Informatics specialization include:
- Information architecture
- Community and social informatics
- Digital preservation
- Electronic commerce strategies
- Electronic delivery of government services
- Digital asset management
- Design, management and optimization of metadata for information services
- Participatory and ethnographic methods for user research and system design
- Human-computer interaction, Web usability and interface design
- Database design, management, and evaluation
- Data warehousing and mining
- Standardization processes, Internet governance and information policy
- Ontology engineering, infrastructure and applications for the
- Semantic Web
- Design and evaluation of information metrics
- Geographical Information Systems
- Information retrieval
- Electronic publishing and scholarly communication services
In each of those areas, students will be challenged to identify new emerging relationships between information, information users, and the technologies that support information use, as well as how to steer those relationships in ways mindful of cultural diversity and social equity. Students of the Informatics specialization will thus be not only well-prepared to operate effectively in an area characterized by rapid technological and institutional change, but also, to provide the intellectual and professional leadership necessary in such times of transition.
UCLA also supports an award-winning chapter of the American Society for Information Science and Technology (ASIST).