Guest Editorial: Information Ethics and Global Citizenship

By Samek, Toni; Shultz, Lynette | Journal of Information Ethics, Spring 2016 | Go to article overview

Guest Editorial: Information Ethics and Global Citizenship


Samek, Toni, Shultz, Lynette, Journal of Information Ethics


In the spring of 20i4, scholars from around the world gathered at the University of Alberta, Canada, to dig deeply into the intersection of theories and practices of global citizenship and information ethics. These are two concepts that are not often brought together in such an intentional manner. This journal issue offers seven of the papers presented, plus responses to three of these papers, surfacing ideas on the edges of academic disciplines and professional practices.

The International Center for Information Ethics frames the topic, in part, as being about "the development of moral values in the information field; the creation of new power structures in the information field; information myths; hidden contradictions and intentionalities in information theories and practices; and the development of ethical conflicts within the field."i By bringing this together with the concerns of global citizenship research, an emerging field of study about multiscalar experiences of globalization and citizenship with a focus on the workings of global systems, issues, and actions by governments, social movements, and corporations, among other actors, we began to see intersections and patterns between acts and scales of citizenship, and the way information is created, exchanged, surveilled, and controlled. Our chosen act of locating information ethics within global citizenship concerns highlights our commitment to a global social justice approach to the research and scholarship across these disciplinary boundaries.

We began our early conversations with questions about scholars at risk, because of their social justice work and how the role of the public intellectual has shifted prompted by intense globalization, the dominance of corporatization, and the marketization of academic labor. These conversations were also in the context of recent challenges to privacy and government surveillance as citizens around the world struggle to understand the implications of high profile cases of Julian Assange and Wikileaks, the charges against Chelsea Manning for her whistleblowing acts, and Edward Snowden's bold release of data about the USA National Security Agency's surveillance practices. With information becoming more and more privatized and technology more sophisticated, difficult ethical issues become the every day concern of scholars and educators everywhere. These issues move across space, actors, and institutions creating the need for understanding that is multiscalar (local, national, global), engaging multiple epistemic and ontological as well as geographic locations in the world, and able to identify how discourses and practices of oppression move around the world through institutional/ institutionalizing structures. We look for an intercultural and anti-colonial disruption of binary local/global information studies that surfaces global citizen knowledges and the emancipatory possibility of information ethics as a foundation. The articles and responses to them in this journal issue contribute to such understanding.

In the opening piece, "Exploring Information Ethics: A Metadata Analytics Approach," Ali Shiri (University of Alberta) helps to frame the topics found within information ethics by creating a knowledge mapping of scholarly activities. This map provides a tool to encourage collaborative research and scholarship. Through building understanding and common language, the diverse contributions to information ethics scholarship can become accessible in the many related disciplines. To follow, John Buschman (Seton Hall University) describes information ethics as being located, first and foremost, in a public and political setting. In his work, "Citizenship and Agency Under Neoliberal Global Consumerism: A Search for Informed Democratic Practices," he explores the vital role of information in contributing to democratic, global citizenship. He reminds us of the ethical responsibility of practicing information professionals to address the democratic needs of the public sphere, particularly the responsibility to address the urgent social, political, and environmental issues that face us on this planet. …

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