The iSchools represent an international organisation of over 120 universities on all inhabited continents. A common interest in all aspects of research and teaching about information unites them.
The scope is deliberately broad and methodologically agnostic, with a strong reliance on the social and behavioural sciences, as well as computing, artificial intelligence, and linguistics.
iSchools topics include data science, human-computer interaction, information organisation and access, bibliometrics, and information integrity. Information scientists share a common perspective on the importance of how intelligent creatures and machines understand the universe.
A set of North American schools founded the organisation in 2005, and it incorporated as the “iSchools” in 2015 and received 501(c)(3) non-profit status in 2016. North American institutions are no longer a majority of the iSchools, and the organisation’s administrative offices are currently in Berlin, Germany.
As a global organisation, the iSchools engage in recruiting new members from all universities world-wide that offer doctoral programs and active research programs on some aspect of information or Information Science. One goal is to provide programs through targeted projects and activities such as doctoral training/colloquia, joint research activities, and joint grant applications. The vision of the Organisation is to strengthen all aspects of research in information and information science for members across the globe.
One of the important characteristics of the iSchools is that all full members have doctoral programs, and recognize the importance of providing a high quality doctoral education as well as opportunities for graduates.
Early career faculty are often nothing more than a doctoral student with a job, but without the support structure that they had when they were doing their dissertation/thesis research. In some schools there are enough early career faculty that they can support each other, but in information science that is more rare, and offering opportunities for early career faculty to work together and help each other could be a big advantage.
Major goals of the organisation are to support member universities in their research and teaching about all forms of information and its implications for our society. The iSchools organisation makes a particular effort to support doctoral students and early career researchers, as well as to facilitate international cooperation. Extensive reliance on videoconferencing makes discussions possible across geographic boundaries without requiring expensive and time consuming travel.
Unlike many scholarly organisations that have a clear national base focus, the ischools are genuinely international. Conferences, business meetings, and other gatherings generally take place in multiple time zones and countries to eliminate the need for people to travel. The common language of the iSchools is English, but the staff makes every effort to accommodate other languages.
Cross-country community building takes place in iSchools special interest groups such as the Women’s Coalition, Black Coalition, and a set of scholars dedicated to environmental concerns. These groups bring scholars and students together to discuss international and cross-cultural topics relevant to their lives and research. Increasing such opportunities for interaction and collaboration is a goal over the coming years. An equally important goal is to enable more intellectually productive ties within the community so that universities that want to expand their offerings can draw on others for help and advice.