Special topics courses

Special topics courses include courses that address a current or timely topic, that are in a "pilot" phase before being offered on an ongoing basis, or that are known to be one time offerings. Special topics course offerings can vary from term to term.  This list includes course descriptions and meeting information for current UMSI Special Topics courses.

Course: SI 614
Title: Climate Change Informatics
Description: The challenge of global climate change presents crucial issues that demand the expertise of both scientists and information professionals. This project-based course — team-taught by professors from the School of Information (SI) and Atmospheric, Oceanic, and Space Sciences (AOSS) — will bring SI and AOSS masters’ students together to help solve real-world problems with real clients. The course will first introduce all students to climate change science and climate informatics. We will explore some of the users and uses of climate data and climate knowledge, including scientists, policymakers, managers, and individuals whose interests will be affected by climate-related phenomena. For example, city planners need information about likely impacts on water supplies, flooding, drought, and/or heat waves. Energy suppliers must estimate future energy demand and supply, which may be directly affected by climate change. The Centers for Disease Control need to project how the spread of disease may be altered by the changing ranges of insects, birds, and other disease vectors. In winter 2014, projects will involve the retrieval, packaging, and presentation of “downscaled” climate data. Downscaled data represent both past climate and simulated future climate change for regions as small as counties. Clients (users of these data) include water managers, city planners, and public health officials. Teams of students will work with these clients to understand which data they need and how they use it. SI and AOSS students will then work together to provide tailored search tools, interfaces, and visualizations, including translational information that helps explain the meaning, significance, and limitations of the chosen data. Finally, students will evaluate the outcomes and prepare guidance for further work on these projects.

Course: SI 710-004
Title: Information Diffusion in Social Networks
Description: We will focus on three important aspects that play a key role in the diffusion process: network structure, the cascading mechanics, and communities and clustering. The course will hence focus on three main topics:  (i) Models of random network generation, (ii) Models of information diffusion, and (iii) Community detection in networks.

Course: SI 710-005
Title: Philosophical Approaches to ICT and Social Change
Description: In this course, we review the various notions of needs, rights, capabilities, aspirations, and related desires as theorized of by anthropology, sociology, economics, social work, and other fields; consider how they differ from one other as drivers of social change; and look at how they apply to both interventionist and observational work involving information technology and social causes.

Course: SI 710-006
Title: Research Design Methods for Special Populations
Description: This course is for Ph.D. students who are interested in deeply using and evaluating research methods that are inspired by participatory design and that aim to be inclusive in nature to special populations. Students learn how to use specific techniques and when, what the advantages and disadvantages are in using each one, and be able to contribute their results to the HCI design community.