After Successful 2011-2012 CIPR Forges Ahead

Under the dual leadership of SOIS faculty Joyce Latham and Michael Zimmer, the Center for Information Policy Research (CIPR) had one of its most active academic years during 2011-2012.

A key goal for CIPR this past year was to involve more faculty and students – both within the School of Information Studies and across campus – in CIPR activities, with the expectation of generating a collegial and collaborative environment for engaging in a range of approaches to information ethics and information policy. This was achieved, in part, through the formulation of a doctoral student reading group on the topic of “information power” with CIPR fellow Professor Sandra Braman (Department of Communication, UWM), as well as through hosting various brown bag lunches during the year, combining faculty and student presentations, which drew attendees from across campus.

CIPR also made available new Research Travel Awards in spring 2012, providing funds for members of the entire campus community engaging in research aligned with the center. Awards were granted to Wilhelm Peekhaus (assistant professor, SOIS), Christopher Terry (lecturer, Department of Journalism, Advertising, and Media Studies-UWM), and Jeremy Mauger (PhD student, SOIS). These awards, along with CIPR’s enhanced Web and email presence, increased its visibility across campus.

CIPR continued its commitment to information policy-related events across campus and within relevant academic and professional communities. During 2011-2012, CIPR helped sponsor numerous events, including the “Minding the Gaps: Wikileaks & Internet Security in the 21st Century” symposium hosted by the Center for 21st Century Studies, the Computer Ethics/Philosophical Enquiry (CEPE) conference, the WLA pre-conference on “Tell me What Democracy Looks Like”, the unconference on “Feminism in LIS”, the screening of “Big Brother, Big Business” for Choose Privacy Week, and the 2nd “Ethics in Information Organization” conference.

Along with Dr. Braman, CIPR hosted other distinguished scholars as visiting fellows. Dr. Loretta Gaffney(University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign) and Dr. Jean Preer (Indiana University-Indianapolis) contributed their expertise in intellectual freedom and library ethics to the WLA pre-conference and related activities. CIPR also welcomed Dr. Luciano Floridi (University of Hertfordshire and the University of Oxford), the leading expert in the philosophy of information, who led discussions with SOIS PhD students on information ethics and the philosophy of information.

Lastly, the American Library Association’s (ALA) Office of Intellectual Freedom awarded CIPR a grant to conduct a survey on “Librarian Attitudes and Behaviors Regarding Informational Privacy” and participate in related privacy education and outreach activities funded through the OIF’s partnership with the Open Society Foundation.

Moving Forward in 2012-2013 

In 2012-2013, CIPR will be directed by Assistant Professor Michael Zimmer, with Assistant Professor Latham focusing her efforts on SOIS’s Public Library Leadership Concentration. CIPR’s focus for the coming year will be on growing its research agenda through numerous projects and external grant applications.

CIPR will continue its partnership with the ALA Office of Intellectual Freedom and will concentrate on the development and evaluation of educational materials to help librarians teach patrons about privacy-related issues. Dr. Zimmer’s own research agenda, centered on issues of information privacy, intellectual property, and internet research ethics, will become incorporated into CIPR activities.

Additionally, CIPR plans to add a senior Research Fellow to assist with grant and research activities. Drawn from existing UW-Milwaukee faculty, the Fellow will join the intellectual community of CIPR to collaborate on research projects, jointly write research grant proposals, and provide informal mentoring to students. A key goal for the Research Fellow will be to collaborate on the creation of a new research project focused on “big data.”

CIPR saw much momentum in 2011-2012, and 2012-2013 looks to be another exciting and busy year at the Center.