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UBC Releases Updated Proposal to Create School of Media, Information and Journalism

March 31, 2017

On March 27, the Faculty of Arts at the University of British Columbia (UBC) released an updated proposal to establish The School of Media, Information and Journalism (referred to as the School of Media and Information in the previous draft).

The updated proposal includes a report on public consultations held in December 2016 and January 2017, including a of key points and how they are addressed in the updated proposal.

Stronger program level representation and equityThe governance structure has been revised to incorporate School Branches, with equitable and inclusive representation of all components of the new proposed unit.11
Clear mechanisms for the involvement of professional communities in the new schoolThis is addressed in the governance section through the added description of the Advisory Board and its membership.11
Lack of information on comparable programs and previous mergersThere are no direct comparators as most academic units that combine Library and Information Studies, Journalism and Media Studies are at the college or faculty level, rather than combining these within a single school. However, we have added some information on comparators in the report.6
Program Offerings
Concerns that the programs and associated degrees would be negatively affectedThe proposal is now more clear on the status of the programs, which will not change. The names of the degrees, which are UBC degrees will also not be affected, and this is stated in the report.2
Concerns for loss of identity for the professional programs; need to maintain distinct disciplinesThis is addressed, in part through the revised governance model and through a change in emphasis throughout the proposal – away from “convergence” to the value of interdisciplinary problem solving through disciplinary collaborations.

It is clear that the new school will need to invest resources into the design of an integrated website and promotional materials that will highlight each of the unique programs and their strengths, as well as developing a branding and recruitment strategy that highlights the programs.
More emphasis on science and technology and technology skillsThis is central to the rationale for the new school and is now stated in an expanded section on the educational programs.2
Impact on MLIS AccreditationThe only stated concern of ALA regarding accreditation is that the MLIS have leadership at the program level, which is addressed by having a Program Chair and Program Committee11
Name, Scope and Aims of the School
Lack of emphasis on the importance of print materials and print culture alongside the digitalThe school will retain its commitment to the study of print media and associated professional skills. This has been clarified throughout the proposal.
Need for increased diversity of student bodyDiversity of the student body will be increased through a stronger international profile and recruiting.3
Diminution and dilution of Journalism in the name of the school, and similar concerns raised by the Archival communityThese concerns have lead to the identification of variations for the name of the unit, among which School of Media, Information and Journalism is one option and School of Media and Information is another. This discussion is ongoing. One response to these concerns is the addition of a three Branch structure for school governance, which includes a Journalism Branch, an Information, Library and Archives Branch and a Media Branch.1
Need for more clarity on benefits of the integrationThis is presented in much more detail in this version of the proposal.   3
A stronger emphasis on Indigenous, aboriginal and First Nations componentsThis is an essential component of the new school and has been added to the proposal2
More emphasis on experiential learning and career services as central features of the new schoolThe possibility of working with Arts Co‐op, the Centre for Community‐Based Learning, and Student Services to provide an outstanding suite of professionally oriented learning and career services is one of the benefits of the new school: this has been added to the proposal  3
More emphasis on the research opportunities afforded by the new schoolThis has been addressed in the proposal3, 5
Consultation Process
Perception of rushed consultationWe extended the original deadline for submissions and added a second round of consultation, with the revised draft (V2) shared with the community and discussed at a single townhall for all stakeholders of the new school.

Executive Summary

This document proposes, effective July 1, 2017, to

  • Establish the School of Media, Information and Journalism (or Media and Information)
  • Transfer all components of the Schools of Journalism, and of Library, Archival and Information Studies(including programs, Faculty and Staff) into the School of Media, Information and Journalism (or Media and Information)
  • Transfer the Bachelor of Media Studies program into the School of Media, Information and Journalism (or Media and Information); and
  • Disestablish the School of Journalism, and the School of Library, Archival and Information Studies.

The School of Journalism and the School of Library, Archival and Information Studies are successful small units that offer educational programs that are in demand. The Bachelor of Media Studies program is a new high‐demand program that is currently administered from within the office of the Dean of Arts, and has no departmental ‘home’.  Integration of these two Schools and the BMS program into one new School will reduce redundancies resulting from overlapping course offerings and service roles, and extend the scope of the combined whole. Further, it will foster a collaborative and inter‐disciplinary culture and approach to education and research that can both leverage and shape the rapidly evolving information and media environment.

Dramatic changes in means and methods of creating, disseminating, analyzing, using, and preserving all forms of information and media ‐‐ from social media to digital archives and the Internet of Things ‐‐ are producing ongoing shifts in traditional professional and academic disciplines. This environment demands new competencies and opens up new research areas across all disciplines. There is also high economic and societal demand, in British Columbia and globally, for a new generation of digitally skilled leaders drawn from the fields of journalism, information studies and media studies. These leaders will be graduates with training in multiple disciplines, capable of generating evidence‐based knowledge and innovating for the public good in response to complex 21st century challenges.

Although other top tier universities integrate these disciplines, the only Canadian institution currently bringing together journalism, information and media studies is the University of Western Ontario. The proposed School will foster emerging synergies between the disciplines of librarianship, archival science, journalism, information science, and media studies. It will generate a connected and interdisciplinary environment, drawing upon the wide range of academic and professional practices represented by core and partner units, opening up enormous possibilities for creativity and innovation.

The new School will integrate the existing units and programs, maintaining all of the existing processes and structures. It will be minimally disruptive for faculty and students. With an implementation date of July 1, 2017, the processes of integration described in Section 7.0 of this proposal will take place prior to September 1, 2017. The School will enroll its 2017/2018 cohorts in September 2017.



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