Dissecting the Core Curriculum

As a random exercise in memory I offer the following none too certain linkage between the former core curriculum of the MSI program at UMich and certain faculty members.

  • 501 = Judy Olson. Contextual design all the way, baby!!
  • 502 = Jeff Mackie-Mason. There has to be an economics course.
  • 503 = George Furnas. Search and information retrieval to find our way out of the MoRAS.
  • 504 = Michael Cohen. The cultural context of information.

The new curriculum.

  • 500 = Professor Cohen, holding strong and putting the social systems into information science.

  • 501 = Professor Olson. “Contextual Inquiry and Project Management” - the title gives it away.

  • 502 = Paul Resnick and Rahul Sami, coming on strong. Let’s give some respect up to the network.

I don’t have much to complain about on the substance of the new curriculum. It looks like the good stuff is still there. There is still the testy problem of core curriculums in general. Every student has a different background and some parts of the core will duplicate that experience. One of the losers in this whole debate appears to be information economics. I’m sure it will be covered, but it doesn’t get it’s own course like it had before.

On a meta level I find the whole process of curriculum development to be an interesting trace of the history of disciplines, departments, and individual people. I have no evidence for any of the connections I’ve made above, they just come to me after two years of observation. (Does this mean that my education taught me something?) What remains behind in the curriculum reflects the people who build it. I suspect that the classes that disappeared didn’t have an advocate to speak for them during committee meetings. The great gamble of graduate school is that you don’t know the details of the program before you arrive.