The focus of the Information Science Ph.D. program is on technological systems and their use - the ways that people use technology and how that use affects us.
Digital technologies have become pervasive in culture, economy, law, government, and research, dramatically changing the way people work and live. The proliferation and significance of these complex technological systems of information demand a new focus in academic scholarship - one committed to cross-disciplinary study, astute about both the technical and the social, and devoted to integrating theory, investigation, design, and practice.
At Cornell, graduate work is organized as fields, each with a Director of Graduate Studies. The field of Information Science studies the design and use of information systems in a social context: it studies the creation, representation, organization, application, and analysis of information in digital form.
The focus of the Information Science Ph.D. program is on systems and their use, rather than on the computing and communication technologies that underlie and sustain them. Moreover, Information Science examines the social, cultural, economic, historical, legal, and political contexts in which information systems are employed, both to inform the design of such systems and to understand their impact on individuals, social groups, and institutions. The field's interdisciplinary research combines multiple methodologies, including mathematical analysis, computer modeling, software system design, experimental studies, and critical social evaluations, from such traditional disciplines as computer science, cognitive psychology, social science, cultural studies, and history.