New dual master’s program bridges gap between Latin American and information studies

Shreya Banerjee

The School of Information and the Teresa Lozano Long Institute of Latin American Studies have introduced a new dual master’s degree program between the two schools. This program would provide students with a master of arts in Latin American studies and a master of science in information studies.

“The need for this program came from two sources,” said Philip Doty, associate dean for the School of Information. “One master’s student expressed her interest in bridging the two schools and both schools have had an informal relationship with each other for at least 30 to 40 years.”

The program allows students to obtain both degrees in three years as opposed to being in school for four years if the student wished to obtain the degrees separately, according to the website. The conclusion of the program requires a Master’s thesis in a subject which applies to both disciplines.

“With the rich cultural resources of the Latin America and the explosion in adoption of digital technologies across the region, the program will provide students with an opportunity to combine cultural history and policy with behavioral and technology studies,” said Andrew Dillon, dean of the School of Information.

Information Studies examines how information is collected, displayed and conveyed and its effects in society, while Latin American Studies examines the past and present of Latin America and allows students to further understand the culture of the region.

“Information Studies deals with how to engage information in different areas, such as social science and math and understanding the relationship between humans and information,” said Luis Francisco-Revilla, associate professor at the School of Information. “[The dual degree program] is an interesting combination and it’s helpful for people to see the context in which people engage in cultural issues.”

Doty said students interested in applying to the program must apply to each school separately and indicate their desire to be in the program. Like many other dual degree programs at UT, there will be about two or three students pursuing the degree at a given time, he said. Students are chosen based on previous experience with the two fields, academic performance and a clear statement describing their desire to be in the program, he said.

“While the most immediate source of Hispanic culture in Texas is from Mexico, there are a lot of UT students and people in Texas from Central America and other South American countries,” Doty said. “As the Hispanic demographic in America changes, the iSchool is interested in attracting people from the Spanish-speaking world in order to help us better understand the culture of the region.”

Printed on Tuesday, November 29, 2011 as: Dual master's combines information, cultural ties