Dr. Ann Peterson Kemp

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Ann Peterson-Kemp is Associate Professor Emerita at the University of Illinois School of Information Sciences. She lives in Sequim, Washington and works as a research and project consultant, with expertise in community informatics and youth. For more than two decades, Ann has collaborated with extraordinary grassroots community organizations devoted to social justice, from whom she continues to learn participatory and emancipatory approaches to discovery, learning, and action. Her partners include SisterNet, Illinois Public Radio, the Don Moyers Boys and Girls Club, Booker T. Washington elementary school, and El Centro (Champaign-Urbana, Illinois); the Puerto Rican Cultural Center, the Dr. Pedro Albizu Campos Puerto Rican High School, and Batey Urbano (Chicago); and the Seattle Public Library, Horn of Africa Services, and Northwest Communities of Burma (Seattle). She also has international experience in the form of two Fulbright appointments (Finland and Brazil). Inspired by the Community Inquiry theory and practice of Jane Addams and John Dewey, Ann is familiar with building innovative and inter-institutional collaborations that cross-industry, university, and community boundaries. Ann is the Co-Founder of Prairienet Community Network, founding Director of the SOAR after school program for Spanish-speaking immigrant children, and Director of the Community Informatics Initiative at the University of Illinois. She served as a research consultant with Dr. Karen Fisher’s InfoMe program, which uses teen collaborative design to understand the information helping the behavior of immigrant and refugee youth. Ann’s work has been supported by the National Science Foundation, NASA, the U.S. Dept. of Commerce, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, and the U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Services.


¡Felicitaciones, Paseo Boricua!

Library professor Ann Peterson Bishop met Alejandro Luis Molina in June 2002, when attending the Puerto Rican People’s Parade in the Paseo Boricua neighborhood of Chicago. She had heard about this close-knit neighborhood and its multigenerational social action projects from Sarai Lastra, who was researching its community information systems for her dissertation. Alejandro serves on the Board of the Puerto Rican Cultural Center and manages its information technology. He has also taught a computer class at the Albizu Campos High School, an alternative school located in the PRCC. Alejandro has volunteered in Paseo Boricua for the last twenty-eight years. The PRCC is a thirty-two-year-old institution in Chicago’s Humboldt Park that is guided by a philosophy of self-actualization and critical thought, self-determination, and self-reliance. It galvanizes residents around local issues such as gang violence, cultural preservation, economic development, community health, poverty, and human rights. The PRCC has spun off a range of affiliated programs that improve the quality of life in the neighborhood: VIDA/SIDA, an AIDS/HIV education center and clinic; the Family Learning Center (FLC), where young parents work toward their high school diplomas; Consuelo Lee Corretjer Day Care; Dr. Pedro Albizu Campos High School; and Café Teatro Batey Urbano, a neighborhood youth space where cultural expression and community action are combined.


The Community is the Curriculum

Vanessa Nelson and Ann Bishop

June 2007 marked the first anniversary of the Community Informatics Corps (CI Corps) as a formal program of study within the Graduate School of Library and Information Science master’s degree at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Focused on addressing local needs and developing capacity, it was created in partnership with Chicago’s Puerto Rican Cultural Center (PRCC) in the inner city neighborhood known as Paseo Boricua. Here, CI Corps students have collaborated with community members through action research and various practical engagement experiences. Through interviews with stakeholders from the community and university, this paper will inquire into attitudes toward the university’s presence in the neighborhood, perceptions of the partnership as a whole, and the outcomes of action, particularly with various youth organizations in the community. “The community is the curriculum” and “Live and help others to live” are two tenets that represent the teaching and learning practices of Paseo Boricua and, by extension, of the CI Corps itself. The purpose of this paper is to develop a sense of the complexities, engagement practices, and early outcomes of the partnership within the larger community and, more broadly, of university/community partnerships within the field of community informatics.

Keywords: university-community partnership, practical engagement, reciprocity.


Community Inquiry and Informatics: Collaborative Learning and Action through ICT

Ann Peterson Bishop and Bertram C. Bruce,

Learning in Communities Studies of learning and human-computer interaction have often focused on settings and practices that are relatively fixed and well-defined, such as a college-level course, a workgroup in a company, or a museum exploration. These studies have contributed much to our understanding of the potential and the problems of incorporating computers into collaborative practice. They have also contributed to the analysis of how learning happens in a wide range of settings. However, such well-defined situations represent but a small portion of realities that are relevant to the field of community informatics (CI), which aims to understand how information and communication technologies (ICTs) are employed to help communities achieve their goals (Gurstein, 2004).
In their seminal monograph, Keeble and Loader (2001, p. 3), describe CI as a “multidisciplinary field for the investigation and development of the social and cultural factors shaping the development and diffusion of new ICTs and its effects upon community development, regeneration and sustainability.” Inherent in CI is the need to understand how knowledge is shaped and shared in communities, to investigate the underlying phenomena and processes of learning that we find when take “community” as our unit of analysis. CI research is conducted internationally in settings that range from inner-city neighborhoods to rural villages, exploring how individuals and institutions (e.g., schools, libraries, grassroots groups, health agencies, etc.) come together to develop capacity and work on common problems. It addresses questions of community learning, development, empowerment, and sustainability in the context of efforts to promote a positive role for computers and the Internet in society. A critical issue is presented when community members, particularly those who are socially excluded or marginalized, are conceived as passively bearing the burdens of illness, malnutrition, addiction, crime, illiteracy, and other social ills. Remedies to these ills, such as improving educational outcomes, providing counseling, delivering food or medicine, collecting information, closing the so-called “digital divide,” or managing development are likewise conceived as actions for well-meaning outsiders to perform. As a result of such top-down approaches, even when remedies succeed, their benefits are often short-lived because the community has made little progress toward developing a capacity for problem-solving and the power to direct its own learning.


A bibliography and webliography of Puerto Rican Chicago (DRAFT)


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