Research Areas

New Media

Social, behavioural, organizational and learning practices are all heavily affected by new media, from the rapid-fire electronic exchange of information and conversation begun with the Internet, to the emergence of virtual community and culture, new practices for scholarly and open knowledge distribution, and the coming radical changes in economic, labour, and educational structures associated with technical infrastructures of information technologies, networks, and social media and the social structures of participatory culture, connected learning, online social networks, and virtual crowds.

At the iSchool, a number of faculty do research in the new media space:

  • Eric Meyers, new media literacy, youth and new media, e-books
  • Luanne Freund, social media, open data and government
  • Heather O’Brien, user engagement

Elsewhere at UBC there are a number of individuals engaged in research on digital/social/new media, e.g., Alfred Hermida (journalism), researchers on GRAND (Graphics, Animation and New Media), and faculty associated with the Art’s Bachelor of Media Studies.

Human-Computer Interaction (HCI)

HCI is necessarily an interdisciplinary field, engaging researchers who design, build, test, evaluate and examine the impact of new computer implementations for individual, group and community use across levels of skill, ability, and facility with technology. It addresses multiple contexts from work to learning and includes both fixed and mobile technologies and applications. (For more, see the HCI@UBC website: A number of faculty at the iSchool self-identify with HCI, with a focus on the interaction of information, technology and people. Across institutions, iSchools have become a common home for HCI research due to the central attention of iSchools to information, technology and people.

At the iSchool, most faculty identify with HCI research:

  • Eric Meyers, Steering Committee Member for HCI@UBC, Expertise in Youth and Media, member of the Designing for People at UBC research cluster
  • Heather O’Brien, User Engagement
  • Luanne Freund, member of the Designing for People at UBC research cluster
  • Rick Kopak, E-News, Government Information Systems
  • Lisa Nathan Values in Design, member of the Designing for People at UBC research cluster

Others at UBC include members of GRAND, and the HCI@UBC steering committee: Joanna McGrenere (CS); Konstantin Beznosov (ECE); Leanne Currie (Nursing); Machiel Van der Loos (Mechanical Engineering); Eric Meyers (iSchool).


Cultural Heritage

Collection, preservation, access and use in library, archival and museum contexts, as augmented and challenged by digitization, digital production (‘born digital’ materials), participatory culture, and access through contemporary media. This area of research addresses fundamental questions about what in the cultural realm will be retained, by whom, in what manner, and with what access, i.e., whose history will be digitized, retained and made available. Research addresses both traditional and newly emerging contexts, including new access protocols and technologies for physical and digitized cultural artifacts held in traditional institutions to documentation, preservation, and sustainability of cultural knowledge and practices. The strong attention at UBC to cultural heritage for First Nations, aboriginal and indigenous peoples makes this an important site for promoting this interdisciplinary area of research.

At the iSchool:

  • Luciana Duranti for Archival Standards, Digital Records Preservation, InterPARES Project
  • Lisa Nathan for Cultural, Ethical And Sustainability Issues, First Nations Context, Information Policy, and chair of the First Nations Curriculum Concentration

Elsewhere at UBC there are many synergistic initiatives, primarily around indigenous knowledge: First Nations Studies Program; Museum of Anthropology; FNLP; Anthropology, and more. A separate submission is being made to Arts bringing together this area.


Records and Information Management

Archival science is concerned broadly with the creation and preservation of representations of transactions (i.e., records and archives) that can provide information and evidence about past activities of individuals and organizations. Ideally, such representations should be persistent and trustworthy. Archival Science therefore explores the theoretical and practical conditions that lead to, or work against, creation and preservation of persistent and trustworthy records and archives. In doing so, it touches upon issues of representation, openness, transparency, privacy, security, accountability, internal control, compliance and risk and risk management. This is a specialization of iSchool faculty members:

  • Victoria Lemieux (records management and financial risk), who collaborates with colleagues at Sauder Business School and Simon Fraser University; lead of the Blockchain at UBC research cluster
  • Luciana Duranti, digital preservation


Children and Young Adult Literature and Services

Research on children and youth can be found across the school, with major strengths in the area of children’s literature, media use, youth information interaction, and youth services in school and public libraries. This research depends on a multi-disciplinary approach bringing an understanding of child development, cognition, literacy, and literary analysis to bear on creative and critical evaluation of children’s and young adult literature in traditional and new media formats. At the iSchool: Eric Meyers works with youth information interaction, theories of learning, cognition, and development, youth services in school and public libraries, digital literacy and new media.

A strong interdisciplinary community around children and young adult literature is found among faculty teaching in the MACL program, a collaboration with the departments of English, Language and Literacy Education, Creative Writing, and the iSchool.