Bard College at Simon's Rock: the Early College
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Information Studies

Develop transliteracy and resilience by taking these 1-credit, half-semester courses.

Transliteracy blends disparate literacies—information, digital, media, communication, and visual, as well as the traditional literacies of reading and writingnecessary to successfully navigate dynamic information and technology environments. A resilient posture toward technology and information-seeking may be the most important skill a young person can acquire in the 21st century, reaching across different disciplines and beyond academia.

Courses can be taken individually based on interest, or as a complete program over the course of two years. The curriculum sits at the intersection of liberal arts and technology, with courses designed with students’ needs and interests in mind, combining theoretical readings with hands-on activities using emerging technologies.


The Dao of Research

Learning Resources 106m | Library Staff | 1 credit p/f

Research is a path, not a destination. This course leads students along that path, marking significant milestones, such as understanding the variety and utility of various search tools; learning the importance of reference management; discovering how technology can both assist and frustrate research; and incorporating research successfully into the writing process. Using a hands-on approach and a research project from another course as the lens for each student, the course teaches students to make research an integral part of the learning process rather than a quick and dirty attempt to meet minimum requirements for assignments.

No prerequisites.

Digital Storytelling

Learning Resources 107m | McGuire | 1 credit p/f

The contemporary information landscape is heavily populated by digital stories. In this course, students will tell a story using digital media as their medium. Questions to be raised include: how is technology influencing the ways in which stories are created and shared? How do we define a digital story? How are digital stories used effectively on the personal, local, and global level? What elements make a digital story successful? How does digital storytelling fit into the larger, international history of storytelling? In addition to an exploration of these questions, students will learn to effectively communicate through multimedia modalities.

No prerequisites.

Beyond Google: The Power of Information & Technology

Learning Resources 110m | Library Staff | 1 credit p/f

In this course, we will consider the intersection of information and technology, a space where so much of our time is spent in pursuit of academic and personal interests. The course will address such questions as: How do we break down the undifferentiated mass of ?information? that confronts each of us every time we open a browser? Do we understand the implications of technologies that use information gathered about us and our activities? How can we become information creators and not just consumers? What are our rights and responsibilities as citizens not just of a nation, but of virtual space as well? As part of the investigation of these and other questions, students will use digital tools to collect, curate, critique, and construct multimedia, information-based units that can be integrated into their academic work more broadly.

No prerequisites.

Reading Images: Visual Literacy in Academia and Beyond

Learning Resources 112m | McGuire | 1 credit p/f

We are inundated with images every day: from photographs to film stills, advertisements, memes, political cartoons, and so much more. We also create our own images, adding to the proliferation of visual media. We see them all, but how much attention do we give to what they are really telling us? Visual literacy involves "reading" an image, interpreting and deriving meaning from it, as well as using it for communication. This course will hone students' visual literacy skills through the close reading of images, sourcing and using them ethically, and repurposing them within different contexts. Relevant copyright issues will be explored. We will also examine how the proliferation of images in our media-saturated culture is affecting our relationship with information creation and consumption.

No prerequisites.

Reading Critically

Learning Resources 114m | Library Staff | 1 credit p/f

Drawing on sources from across the print and digital realm, this course focuses on a theme, different in each iteration of the course. Students delve deeply into the topic, examining the intersections of information and contemporary issues. Engaging critically with a broad range of sources, students analyze the constructs around media and publishing and question the impacts of transmission of information on the individual and society. Technology has changed our relationship with information – what decisions will we make based on this knowledge? No prerequisites.

No prerequisites.

Information Design: When a Picture Is Worth 1000 Words

Learning Resources 115m | Mikesell | 1 credit p/f

This course focuses on the effective design of information for communication, covering print and electronic media, static and moving images, and the combination of numerical and textual data with images. In this course, students will address such questions as: What is the difference between vision and seeing? How does seeing translate into knowing and understanding? What strategies can we use to design information to improve communication? What are the fallacies that are perpetrated through information design, whether intentional or not? How is the visual environment affecting us without our conscious knowledge? As part of the investigation of these and other questions, students will use digital tools to collect, curate, critique, and construct multimedia, information-based units that can be integrated into their academic work more broadly.

No prerequisites.

#Tag#This#Class: Metadata for Representation and Organization

Learning Resources 116m | Library Staff | 1 credit p/f

Metadata is all around us. Often referred to simply as “data about data,” it is a means by which we represent complex objects in a simpler form and prepare them for organization; for example, hashtags, subject headings, and file types are metadata that describe and structure both physical and digital items. In this course, students explore various approaches to the representation and organization of data, information, and knowledge. Students also consider the impact of metadata on equity and inclusion, interrogating the theoretical paradigms and inherent biases coded into these informational infrastructures. Students bring these concerns to bear in the production of descriptive metadata (in XML) for archival materials and the generation of a unique metadata schema.

No prerequisites.

Synthesizing Research: The Literature Review

Learning Resources 117m | Library Staff | 1 credit p/f

A literature review is an extensive summary and synthesis of the published literature in a given subject or topic area. It is a crucial part of any significant research project, because comprehensive knowledge of current and historical questions, arguments, and conclusions is the foundation a researcher needs. In this course, students focus on bibliographic research in an academic area in which they plan to conduct future study. The research and writing in this course may serve as a foundation and preparation for further inquiry to be undertaken in the senior thesis process.

No prerequisites.

Oral History: An Archival Perspective

Learning Resources 118m | Library Staff | 1 credit p/f

Oral history is the process of recording, preserving, and interpreting the memories of individuals and communities. Memory is complex, often problematic, but it is also a gateway into the feelings and thoughts experienced by individuals at a particular moment. This course will examine the methods by which oral histories are conducted, preserved, and made accessible as well as the ethical complexities inherent to maintaining and sharing memory. Students will be asked to consider the role of oral history in social justice movements, public history, pop culture, folklore, and family histories. Throughout the course students will get the chance to analyze oral testimonies from a variety of contexts and conduct their own oral history field work.

No prerequisites.

Documenting Research: Photography in the Field

Learning Resources 119m | Library Staff | 1 credit p/f

Capturing images of the world around us is commonplace with the ubiquity of cameras, while social media feeds are flooded with impossibly arresting photographs. How, though, can we use those same tools to make equally compelling visual documentation in the service of research? This course explores the creation and use of images, primarily photographs, as data to support natural and social science field work; as ways of communicating concepts and supporting claims; as investigative methods; and as persuasive exhibits. While the focus of the course is the hands-on practice of image making to build skills in preparation for field work, there will also be significant time spent analyzing effective use of images as evidence and illustrations in a range of disciplines. Artistry is not a critical component in this course, but it will be examined as a tactic employed in advocacy or to garner attention in broader contexts.

No prerequisites.

Critical Issues in Digital Privacy

Learning Resources 120m | McGuire | 1 credit p/f

Is privacy dead? If so, how does this affect you, a citizen of the 21st Century? This course presents an overview of how we make sense of privacy in the digital era. We examine digital privacy scenarios in a range of settings, both online in arenas such as social media and surveillance, and in real life with examples such as location data, the Internet of Things, and radio-frequency identification (RFID). We pay particular attention to how historical and philosophical ideas about privacy inform our understanding of digital privacy today. This course encourages students to think critically about the role of privacy in their own digital lives by providing skills and tools to become informed users of technology.

No prerequisites.

Information Privilege

Learning Resources 122m | Library Staff | 1 credit p/f

Access to information is vital to participation in work, society, and civil life. The instantaneity and burgeoning growth of the internet may be leading to a false perception of democratization and equality of access which permits information privilege to be largely ignored. This course examines a range of factors that can limit information access—from a baseline of internet availability to geography, economics, education, race, ethnicity, age, ability, and more.

No prerequisites.

The Book: History, Theory, and Practice

Learning Resources 125m | Library Staff | 1 credit p/f

From its antecedents in Mesopotamian clay tablets through to its subsumption into the digital environment, the book has served as one of the first and most enduring information technologies. In this course, students trace the history of the book as a physical object, investigating developments in page medium, text inscription, and final assembly. Students also consider the effects and implications of such physical changes on writing, reading, knowledge, and education. Alongside considering the book-as-object, we also explore the book-as-subject and -as-symbol: what constitutes a "book"? How have human orientations toward and engagements with texts varied over time and throughout culture? What connections can we draw across those temporal and cultural boundaries? Will the book ever die? As a final project, students bring some of these considerations to bear on their own creation of a physical book.

No prerequisites.

Information Alchemy: A First Chapter

Learning Resources 130m | Library Staff | 1 credit p/f

Libraries have a long history of working to organize and preserve the corpus of information created by humanity, guided by and dedicated to values such as open access, intellectual freedom, and pursuing the public good. As a result, library work intertwines intellectual curiosity with commitment to community. In this course, students will learn about the fundamental tenets of information services as well as the what, why, and how of library collections, systems, policies, and physical/digital spaces. The course serves as an introduction for students who may be interested in careers in libraries, archives, museums, competitive intelligence, data science, knowledge management, and more.

No prerequisites.

Laboratories and Libraries: The Lifecycles of Scientific Information

Learning Resources 132m | Library Staff | 1 credit p/f

Part of any kind of scientific research is engaging with the literature to extract facts and evidence to form new ideas or new research questions. However, evaluating the worth or usefulness of a literary account of natural phenomena or an experiment requires information literacy skills. A scientific paper is not just a presentation of facts, it is a story of human experience in a certain place and time, and personal observation rendered as expert testimony. In the messy arenas of trust, truth, authority, skepticism and rebellion that make facts settled or unsettled, how do we interpret the scientific record to make decisions? The goal of this course is to learn how to unpack scientific literature to better interpret and communicate science, and furthermore, to understand the impacts of science on daily life.

No prerequisites.


Information Studies courses are part of the Learning Resources curriculum.