CIRSS Seminar: Kirstin Phelps

Doctoral candidate Kirstin Phelps will give the talk, "Organizing for Community Social Innovations: Leadership Networks and Information Practices."

Abstract: Successful collaboration is a pressing need for grassroots efforts by community members to create solutions to local challenges. Social innovations frequently arise in response to what are termed ‘wicked problems’, i.e. socially complex, ill-structured challenges, which are often too large and too complex for any single group or individual to address on their own. One local challenge faced by communities is how to support the development of digital literacies; not only to set up individual citizens for success in an increasingly technology-reliant life, but also to meet social and economic development goals related to digital inclusion and workforce preparation. Addressing wicked problems, like digital literacy development, requires engagement of a variety of stakeholders across a variety of sectors. In order to support the success of cross-sector, multiple stakeholder initiatives we need a better model for successful collaboration that accounts for both formal and informal social influence processes among group members while helping identify mechanisms that can both support and hinder cross-sector work. This talk will discuss a case-based, mixed methods research project exploring the organizing processes around digital literacy related initiatives within a community setting, focused on identifying mechanisms to hinder and support cross-sector, community-wide collaboration. The findings of this study identify different community tensions around digital literacy impacting collaborative work, information needs of individuals involved in digital literacy, and a collective leadership framework to support collaboration. The talk concludes by connecting insights from this work to new projects focused on expanding notions of leadership processes within the field and exploring how to prepare information professionals for leadership roles.

Phelps studies leadership in sociotechnical systems, exploring group processes around organizing and information sharing, as well as the preparation of information professionals for leadership roles. Kirstin uses mixed methods in her work, informed by an interdisciplinary background in communication, advertising, education, and leadership education. As an intersectional scholar, her research has been presented at the Association for Information Science and Technology (ASIS&T), iConference, Association of Library & Information Science Education, as well as the International Leadership Association and Society of Industrial and Organizational Psychology.

This event is sponsored by CIRSS