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.
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.