The Graduate School of Library and Information Science at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is the home of the Community Informatics Initiative (CII). CII's stated mission, goals, and core values can be found below as excerpts from its website. Perhaps investigating CII may be useful to this Community Building 2.0 group. For various professional and personal reasons I'm drawn to CII's reason for being.

CII Faculty Co-Directors
Ann P. Bishop
Bertram (Chip) Bruce
Graduate School of Library and Information Science
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
501 E. Daniel St.
Champaign, IL 61820
217.333.3280 (V), 217.244.3302 (F)

CII Managing Director
Paul Adams
padams@uiuc.edu
Prairienet Community Network
510 E. Daniel St.
Champaign. IL. 61820
Voice: (217) 333-5218

see also:
Association for Community Networking
Community Informatics Research Network (CIRN)

Mission
The Community Informatics Initiative (CII) works with people to develop information and communication technologies to achieve their goals. It fosters collaborations across campus, local, national and international communities. Together we build innovative community networks, community technology centers, software, and library services.
The core of the CII is community inquiry: collaborative action to create knowledge and technology connected to people's values, history, and lived experiences; the development of models of engagement that are just, democratic, participatory, and open-ended; and the integration of theory and practice in an experimental and critical manner.
We see the challenges facing community inquiry and informatics in the form of key research questions:

* How do actual communities work to address their problems?
* What theory adequately accounts for the complexity and diversity of distributed, collective practice?
* What tools are needed to mediate work on concrete tasks within communities?
* What is the most effective process for developing shared capacity in the form of knowledge, skills, & tools?

Goals
The CII has four primary and intersecting goals:

* Research: To create new knowledge about community inquiry, including its processes, practices, technologies;
* Teaching: To help both individuals and organizations engage in more productive community inquiry;
* Public Engagement: To engage in community inquiry through the development of, and action in, living laboratories that bring together people from all walks of life;
* Institutional Infrastructure: To establish democratic and sustainable infrastructure for community inquiry.


Core Values
The CII strives to align its work with the following set of core values:

* Underlying specific community or pedagogical aims is to help all participants develop a critical, socially-engaged intelligence.
* Users should be empowered to participate actively in design, development, implementation, distribution, use, and evaluation of resources, not simply as informants (some participatory design processes), but, as John Dewey argues, to enter into the process of authority.
* Dialogue across differences is not a necessary evil, but the generative force behind change and growth.
* Knowledge construction depends upon community processes--sharing and building upon each other's work.
* There must be a balance between free exploration of new territories and the maps derived from the work of others; this might be called appropriate scaffolding.
* Every situation is unique; there is no absolute value in education or technology. Nevertheless, we can all learn from the experiences of others.
* Diversity is a resource; every individual must be respected, regardless of race, class, religion, nationality, gender, age, or physical ability.
* Ordinary experience is fundamental, but it is through reflection on experience that individuals are able to grow and prepare for enlarged experiences in the future.
* Inquiry is a process of transforming situations, not simply acquiring knowledge or skills. Thus, it involves embodied action in the world as much as it does thinking.
* Growth in knowledge is hollow and even harmful if it is not accompanied by moral growth as well. In her work, Jane Addams struggled to illuminate the "affectionate interpretation" that lies at the heart of justice and peace.

Tags: community+building, community+informatics

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Replies to This Discussion

I met some of the people from the Graduate School of Library and Information Science at an eChicago conference held at Dominican University recently. I blogged a little about the event while it was in progress.

I've been trying to reach out to colleges who teach informatics, and had a little luck this spring. At this and this location you can see connections I made with the University of Michigan and Indiana University. The link to Indiana University is a project that two IU students did this spring to illustrate one of my ideas. The work done by the student from Michigan has not yet been uploaded due to a technical glitch.

At the eLearning conference I expressed my hope that universities in Illinois, even Chicago, might work with me in the same way. I hope that happens as we move into the next school year.

Skip, if we can enlist students from these schools, they can visualize our ideas in ways that we may not have the time, or talent, to do.

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