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LIBR 561: Information Policy – Course Syllabus (3)

Program: Master of Library and Information Studies/Dual
Year: 2011-2012, Winter II
Course Schedule: Online Course
Instructor: Lisa Nathan
Office location: IKBLC 483
Office hours: Tuesdays 11:00am-1:00pm
E-mail address: lisa.nathan@ubc.ca

Vista Online Learning System: http://www.elearning.ubc.ca/lms/login-to-vista/

Course Goal:
The goal of this course is to provide students with the expertise needed to locate, interpret, evaluate, create, and adapt policy relating to information and communication technology issues. In particular, students will become adept at recognizing how various levels of policy implicate other levels of policy (e.g., a local privacy policy, a national privacy law, and an international trade treaty). In addition, students will develop skills that will enable them to: 1) identify the need for information policy in various professional contexts; 2) create appropriate, context-sensitive policy; and 3) envision the likely implications of information policy.

Course Objectives:

Upon completion of this course you will be able to:

  • State in your own terms the relationship between values (ethics) and policy in forming stable social structures;
  • Describe the purpose of information policy;
  • Analyze the relationship between policy, information, and information tools in different contexts;
  • Provide examples of how political, social, economic, and technological changes have influenced information legislation and regulation;
  • Demonstrate familiarity with current Canadian information policy issues;
  • Describe and compare recent information policy initiatives in other countries;
  • Articulate how differences in the societal values may translate into conflicting information policies and in turn, how policy tensions may lead to contention in and amongst nations, organizations, and/or individuals;
  • Locate policy and policy review documents, interpret them and make informed decisions regarding likely implications the policy holds for different stakeholders in a particular context;
  • Create recommendations for an information policy in response to an information issue such as freedom of information, information access and distribution, copyright, or privacy.

Course Topics:

  • Ethics and Western Political Philosophy; Universal Values; Values & Technology
  • What is Information Policy? Who are stakeholders?
  • Privacy: Ethical conceptions of privacy
  • Privacy and information tools: Push and pull
  • Privacy, & Freedom of Information: National Expectations and International Realities
  • Censorship & Selection: National Expectations and International Realities
  • Intellectual Property: Permeable Borders & Copyright Challenges
  • Traditional Knowledge in the Modern World; Revisiting Universal Values
  • Information Policy in Information Organizations: Information Professionals Action & Advocacy; Public Consultations, Resolutions, Position Statements
  • Information Policy, Business and Politics
  • Creating an Information Policy: Policy Theories, Frameworks, and Constraints

Prerequisites: LIBR 500 and 501 and Co-requisites: 502 and 503 for students in the MLIS and Dual programs.  MAS Core for students in the stand-alone MAS program.

Format of the course: Online.  Responsibilities: All participants are expected to read all assigned readings deeply and critically and to participate thoughtfully in discussion. Any lasting knowledge you walk away with from this course is substantially the result of your interactions in class discussion.

Required and Recommended Reading: A variety of readings from books, journals and websites will constitute required readings.  These will be available online or through UBC libraries. There is no course textbook.

Course Assignments:


Grade Weighting

Due Date

#1 Weekly Discussions:
a.  Provocateur (15)
b.  Responder   (15)


Throughout term

#2 Information Policy News (2x)


Throughout term

#4 Policy Review Wiki
a. Post topic
b. Post Draft (5)
c. Provide Collegial  Feedback (10)
d. Final Submission (25)



Course Schedule



Module & Topic

Jan. 4-9

Unit 1. Ethics & Society

Module 1. (1 wk) Introduction to course content, expectations, and course learning technologies

Wk 2.
Jan. 10-16

Unit 1. Ethics & Society

Module 2. (2 wks) Ethics and Western Political Philosophy; Universal Values; Values & Technology

Wk 3.
Jan. 17-23

Wk 4.
Jan. 24-30


Unit 2. Policy & Society: National & International Considerations

Module 3. (2 wks) What is Information Policy? Who are stakeholders?

Wk 5.
Jan. 31-Feb. 6

Wk 6.
Feb 7-13


Unit 2. Policy & Society: National & International Considerations

Module 4. (1 wk) Privacy: Ethical conceptions of privacy

Feb. 14-20

Reading Week

Reading Week

Wk 7.
Feb. 21-27

Unit 2. Policy & Society: National & International Considerations

Module 5. (1 wk)
Privacy and information tools: Push and pull

Wk 8.
Feb. 28-Mar. 6

Unit 2. Policy & Society: National & International Considerations

Module 6: (1 wk) Privacy, Freedom of Expression &   Freedom of Information

Wk 9.
Mar. 7-13

Unit 2. Policy & Society: National & International Considerations


Module 7: (2 wks) Censorship (or just Selection?)

Wk 10.
Mar. 14-20

Wk. 11.
Mar. 21-27

Unit 2. Policy & Society: National & International Considerations

Module 8:(2 wks)  Intellectual Property:  Copyright

Wk. 12.
Mar. 28- Apr. 3

Wk. 13
Apr. 4-10

Unit 2. Policy & Society: National & International Considerations

Module 9:(1 wk)   Information Professional Action and Advocacy; Resolutions, Position Statements


Attendance: The calendar states: “Regular attendance is expected of students in all their classes (including lectures, laboratories, tutorials, seminars, etc.). Students who neglect their academic work and assignments may be excluded from the final examinations. Students who are unavoidably absent because of illness or disability should report to their instructors on return to classes.”

Evaluation: All assignments will be marked using the evaluative criteria given on the SLAIS web site.

Written & Spoken English Requirement: Written and spoken work may receive a lower mark if it is, in the opinion of the instructor, deficient in English.

Access & Diversity: Access & Diversity works with the University to create an inclusive living and learning environment in which all students can thrive. The University accommodates students with disabilities who have registered with the Access and Diversity unit: [http://www.students.ubc.ca/access/drc.cfm]. You must register with the Disability Resource Centre to be granted special accommodations for any on-going conditions.

Religious Accommodation: The University accommodates students whose religious obligations conflict with attendance, submitting assignments, or completing scheduled tests and examinations. Please let your instructor know in advance, preferably in the first week of class, if you will require any accommodation on these grounds. Students who plan to be absent for varsity athletics, family obligations, or other similar commitments, cannot assume they will be accommodated, and should discuss their commitments with the instructor before the course drop date. UBC policy on Religious Holidays: http://www.universitycounsel.ubc.ca/policies/policy65.pdf .


Academic Integrity


The Faculty of Arts considers plagiarism to be the most serious academic offence that a student can commit. Regardless of whether or not it was  committed intentionally, plagiarism has serious academic consequences and can result in expulsion from the university. Plagiarism involves the improper use of somebody else's words or ideas in one's work.

It is your responsibility to make sure you fully understand what plagiarism is. Many students who think they understand plagiarism do in fact commit what UBC calls "reckless plagiarism." Below is an excerpt on reckless plagiarism from UBC Faculty of Arts' leaflet, "Plagiarism Avoided: Taking Responsibility for Your Work," (http://www.arts.ubc.ca/arts-students/plagiarism-avoided.html).

"The bulk of plagiarism falls into this category. Reckless plagiarism is often the result of careless research, poor time management, and a lack of confidence in your own ability to think critically. Examples of reckless plagiarism include:

  • Taking phrases, sentences, paragraphs, or statistical findings from a variety of sources and piecing them together into an essay (piecemeal plagiarism);
  • Taking the words of another author and failing to note clearly that they are not your own. In other words, you have not put a direct quotation within quotation marks;
  • Using statistical findings without acknowledging your source;
  • Taking another author's idea, without your own critical analysis, and failing to acknowledge that this idea is not yours;
  • Paraphrasing (i.e. rewording or rearranging words so that your work resembles, but does not copy, the original) without acknowledging your source;
  • Using footnotes or material quoted in other sources as if they were the results of your own research; and
  • Submitting a piece of work with inaccurate text references, sloppy footnotes, or incomplete source (bibliographic) information."

Bear in mind that this is only one example of the different forms of plagiarism. Before preparing for their written assignments, students are strongly encouraged to familiarize themselves with the following sources on plagiarism: the Faculty of Art's online booklet on plagiarism at http://www.arts.ubc.ca/arts-students/plagiarism-avoided.html, the discussion of Academic Integrity on http://www.arts.ubc.ca/faculty-amp-staff/resources/academic-integrity.html, and the library's resources at http://learningcommons.ubc.ca/get-study-help/academic-integrity/#Research. This website includes helpful tutorials on how to avoid plagiarism.

If after reading these materials you still are unsure about how to properly use sources in your work, please ask me for clarification.

Students are held responsible for knowing and following all University regulations regarding academic dishonesty. If a student does not know how to properly cite a source or what constitutes proper use of a source it is the student's personal responsibility to obtain the needed information and to apply it within University guidelines and policies. If evidence of academic dishonesty is found in a course assignment, previously submitted work in this course may be reviewed for possible academic dishonesty and grades modified as appropriate. UBC policy requires that all suspected cases of academic dishonesty must be forwarded to the Dean for possible action.


Additional course information:


You are required to keep up to date with information on the class website: http://www.elearning.ubc.ca/lms/login-to-vista/.

You are expected to read all assigned readings deeply and critically and to participate thoughtfully in discussion. Any lasting knowledge you walk away with from this course is substantially the result of your interactions in class discussion.


Note Regarding Written Submissions To The Course:

  • Writing should be clear, coherent, and error-free!
  • Ideas should be well-organized.
  • How you present information is critical.  Consider the organization of information – use tables, bullet points, etc. to help manage getting a lot of data into a small amount of space.
  • Give proper attribution to other people’s ideas and words.  Remember UBC’s policies on academic integrity and plagiarism.
  • Make strong, logical case for the views/arguments you present.  Contradicting yourself will weaken your work and cast doubt on your grasp of the topic.
  • PROOF Your Submissions!
    • Is the issue in question clearly stated?
    • Is the argument valid, sound?
    • Is the analysis of the options thorough and balanced?
    • If recommendations are presented, do they follow from the analysis?
    • Is the writing clear?
Is the document well-formatted for readability?



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School of Library, Archival and Information Studies

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