‘Knowledge design and Knowledge media’

There is one main reason for redesigning our bachelor’s programme at the Royal School of Library and Information Science. In order to standardize European university programmes, these are now going to be described in terms of competencies; i.e. what can students do with the theories, concepts and methods they have been studying. At our school a decision was made in the summer of 2006 that we should start revising our programme accordingly. More precisely, it was decided that the school should use this opportunity to take a critical and fresh look at our existing programme – both bachelor and master’s level.

The exciting challenge, as we see it, was and is to develop new courses with relevance to our knowledge society, courses that respond to the latest development of the new media, and the potential job of today for young people with a bachelor or master in library and information science.

The result of this revision and critical look is our new bachelor’s programme with emphasis on what we call ‘knowledge design and knowledge media’. The word ‘knowledge design’ encapsulates an important aspect of the school’s research and teaching areas: The study and design of every form of activity and practice in which the purpose is to create space(s) for seeking, organizing, communicating and developing knowledge through the use of relevant technologies and media. With ‘knowledge media’ is meant that research and teaching in library and information studies is not equivalent to ‘general’ media studies. Rather, it is concerned with studying and teaching the main media (language, writing, manuscripts, printing, the book and the computer) that historically and presently have shaped the storing, retrieval and communication of recorded knowledge in human societies. Thus, our new focus on ‘knowledge design and knowledge media’ re-articulates and synthesizes the traditional focus of library and information studies on organization and communication of knowledge with awareness towards new media.

Accordingly, our purpose with our new bachelor’s programme is to educate students to work with knowledge design and knowledge media. The programme takes its point of departure in the library tradition in which communication, seeking and organization of knowledge is the baseline. The activity of seeking, organization, and communication of knowledge has always taken its point of departure in the present technologies and media. However, in a knowledge society it is not enough to be concerned only with seeking, organization, and communication of knowledge. People must also be capable of creating spaces and situations that encourage the creation of knowledge.

Our programme provides students with a systematic knowledge about how knowledge can be sought, structured, communicated and developed in particular with and in digital media. In the knowledge society, digital media is the media platform that is capable of integrating the above processes. That is to say, that the organization and communication of knowledge of today is gathered in one media and not in separate media. However, the study of digital media requires a pre-understanding situated in historical, cultural and social perspectives. Students must therefore be acquainted with those knowledge media and institutions (e.g. libraries, archives, encyclopedias, bibliographies, journals, the book, the database) that have characterized knowledge development of cultural and social history.With this our programme provides a solid historical and cultural understanding of how previous epochs in human history have organized and communicated knowledge. Or to put it differently: the historical and cultural elements and the organizing and communication of knowledge are not two separate units, which they used to be, but constitute one solid element. To turn these into one element was actually one of the main objectives behind the work with redesigning our programme.

In the programme students acquire knowledge about how society’s conceptions of knowledge, the development of various media and libraries and other institutions shape each other. This is grounded in readings of relevant social and cultural theories. Moreover, the programme provides students with knowledge and skills making them capable of working creatively and critically with various forms of knowledge design and mediation strategies.

The programme enforces project work.With this is meant elective thematic courses that have connections back to the required course and the theme for the particular project semester (e.g. ‘Knowledge and culture in society’ for the second semester). Also in the project semesters, we now offer a required course in theory of science. The reason for this is that our students should be acquainted with various scholarly traditions in general and in particular with scholarly traditions in library and information studies. This provides students with a competence in reading and writing scholarly texts and an understanding of why and how analytical and empirical studies argue and produce knowledge the way they do.

Thus, with the emphasis on ‘Knowledge design and Knowledge media’ in our programme we hope to produce students that are analytically and methodically equipped to handle the challenges provided by the knowledge society.

Jack Andersen

Associate Professor, PhD
Chair of Curriculum Committee
Royal School of Library
and Information Science

jan AT

Translated by Vibeke Cranfield

Associate Professor, PhD Chair of Curriculum Committee Royal School of Library and Information Science