School of Information Sciences to Create Fellowships with Andrew W. Mellon Funds

Issue Date: 
April 14, 2014

The University of Pittsburgh’s School of Information Sciences has received an award from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to fund a new doctoral fellowship program for information sciences students worldwide. 

The $726,000 award will support a program for 10 “iFellows” who will work on digital projects designed to enhance scholarly productivity and enrich teaching. The chosen fellows will supplement the work of the Committee on Coherence at Scale for Higher Education, a body of academic leaders who study colleges’ and universities’ national-scale digital projects and assess their potential to aid in scholarly productivity, teaching, cost-efficiency, and sustainability. The committee is sponsored by the Council on Library and Information Resources and Vanderbilt University.

The doctoral fellowship program was conceived by Pitt School of Information Sciences Dean and Professor Ronald L. Larsen and Visiting Professor and Mellon Cyberscholar Stephen Griffin, in collaboration with the Committee on Coherence at Scale.

“Contemporary scholarship is changing rapidly in this digital age. The iFellows program is designed to help the academic community boost collaboration and effectiveness on a national and even international scale,” Larsen said. “The School of Information Sciences is honored to host the fellowship program and grateful to the Mellon Foundation for supporting the advancement of the field of information sciences.”

Five iFellows will be selected in 2015 and the remaining five will be selected in 2016. Each will receive a stipend of $50,000 to support their development of a PhD dissertation related to coherence at scale.

The doctoral fellowship program will also support the goals of iSchools, an international consortium of information schools whose primary focus is to understand the relationships between information, technology, and people. Pitt is a founding member of iSchools.

“The iSchools organization has grown from a founding membership of 10 U.S. institutions in 2005 to its current global membership numbering 55 universities in North America, Europe, Asia, and Australia,” Larsen said. “The rapid growth and evolution of the organization is a direct response to the ongoing and explosive creation of digital information and its centrality to human endeavors.”

Doctoral students from the iSchools’ 55 member schools will be invited to apply for the fellowship program. The iFellows will be paired with faculty advisors and mentors from Pitt and other iSchools institutions.  The call for proposals will be announced this spring.