As a student in the Indiana University School of Informatics, I have something of a unique academic perspective from most other IUPUI students, in that it is a relatively new school within the university. Having been started little over a decade ago, the School of Informatics is a brand new program, not just within IU, but within American academia in general. Being a part of such a new area of study, the Informatics faculty and staff are still in the process of figuring out what a relevant and useful degree in the area of information technology means, giving them much more leeway and better able to provide a quality education experience than other, more established schools.
I am not suggesting in any way that other schools within Indiana University are stagnant or incapable of reinvention, but their areas of study have long since been determined and defined. The School of Medecine has its own defined area of expertise and curricula, as do the Schools of Nursing, Art, Business, et cetera.
Whenever I am asked “What is informatics?”, I never have an answer without first giving it some thought. I suspect the people coming up with the School of Informatics curriculum is having the same difficulty in pigeonholing the program. Maybe in twenty years or so, it will be just as easily understood as computer science has become in the past thirty years.
This is even further enhanced by the openness of the professors and staff within the program to student input. I committed some of my grievances against the School to this blog a while ago and my academic advisor found it somehow and invited me to speak with her about it.
A newer school may not mean a better or more relevant education for students now, but it has the potential to become very powerful and relevant in a few years making IU a destination for those trying to enter the information technology field.