Project Description
INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY IMPACTS ON SOCIETY AND SPACE


The purpose of the Provost's Urban Initiative on Information Technology, Society and Space is to promote interdisciplinary research on the indirect impacts of information and communications technology.

Information Technology (IT) is the major technological breakthrough of our time. It has been identified as a key causal factor in industrial restructuring and globalization. Economic change leads to changes in the structure and location choices of firms, changes in product flows, and changes in the utilization of labor. These changes in turn affect the work environment. New location patterns and new forms of work lead to further changes in urban form.

In addition to its effects on the economy, IT is also linked with social impacts. IT has touched every aspect of everyday life, from the way we work (less long-term employment, more self-employment, more home-based work), to the nature of social networks (less place-based), to how we play. Cell phones have made it possible to engage in social interactions as well as to conduct business anywhere, anytime. Email has vastly increased opportunities for interaction via chat rooms and affinity-based list-serves.

IT has been termed a "heartland technology", because it affects all aspects of society and work. Broadly defined, IT is related in some way to all activities. Hence research on IT impacts is scattered across many disciplines and has not yet emerged as a distinct area of study. Some examples:

Geographers have examined the spatial impacts of IT-related economic restructuring, examining shifts in urban location patterns
Urban economists have explored changes in agglomeration economies related to economic restructuring
Sociologists have examined IT impacts on social networks
Political scientists have examined the impacts of IT on political participation

The current state of IT research provides USC with a unique opportunity. The potential for research on the effects of IT is literally boundless. There are issues relevant to a wide range of disciplines, including for example geography, economics, business, public policy, sociology, psychology, and planning, as well as communications. We believe that USC is well positioned to take the lead in an interdisciplinary effort on this topic. The Los Angeles region is a prototype for the post-industrial city.

The IT, Society and Space initiative is encouraging interdisciplinary research in the following ways:

Providing seed grants to support pilot studies, preliminary research, and proposal development
Hosting a website to encourage information exchange on relevant research across the USC campus
Conducting a speaker series to bring top researchers to USC and stimulate intellectual exchange
Conducting a series of university-wide faculty discussions to stimulate cross-disciplinary linkages and research

 

Core Faculty

Genevieve Giuliano (lead), Professor, School of Policy, Planning, and Development and Director, METRANS Transportation Center

Michael Dear, Professor, Dept. of Geography

Randolph Hall, Professor and Assistant Dean of Research, School of Engineering

Sandra Ball-Rokeach, Professor, Annenberg School for Communication

William Dutton, Professor, Annenberg School for Communication



 


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