News & Press: InSider

President's Message: Engaged Scholarship in a Global Context

Friday, October 5, 2012  

As stated in our mission, "AIS serves society through the advancement of knowledge and the promotion of excellence in the practice and study of information systems.”  Towards that end, one of my goals has been the promotion of engaged scholarship.  Engaged scholarship with societal emphasis and global involvement is a keystone towards encouraging more membership and institutional commitment in sustaining our association’s impact, in my opinion.  This can occur in a number of ways, but it can be as simple as recognizing the importance of having our research influence practice and interacting with practice to better understand "points of pain” that present opportunities for research.  Implications for practice and research are standard components of our publications.  Engaged scholarship is also reflected in our teaching as we strive to prepare students for a life in practice. 

A novel suggestion by Carol Saunders in concert with engaged scholarship is the creation of an "AIS Peace Corp.”  The general notion would be that members with time and energies available could be matched up with targets of need that could especially benefit from IS knowledge.  This could involve teaching and faculty development as well as applied research.  Many are the countries around the world with expressed interest in this regard who could provide basic support for members while benefiting from the engagement.  Essentially, this could be implemented as a "marketplace” that would bring together interested members with targets of opportunity.  Developing countries present numerous opportunities where funding agencies are currently seeking implementation support.  However, this could also help bring together opportunities in more developed countries where situations often occur, especially in rural environments, and information systems can play a transformative role in areas such as healthcare and education.

Consideration of the broader nature of engaged scholarship enables thinking beyond the domain of organizations that has been our historical focus to a more societal emphasis with global implications.  An AIS strategic goal is to "cultivate a community by providing services and products to meet the diverse needs of members and related communities.”  As I noted in my remarks at AMCIS 2012 in Seattle, an AIS distinction is membership in nearly 100 countries.  This differentiates us from most other associations.  Cross-regional and cross-border collaboration are important endeavors as we witness a world in which over half of the population has mobile phones and/or Internet access.  Entrepreneurial activities such as mobile banking and payment in countries such as Kenya and Bangladesh are prototypes for broader global application and opportunities for research as well as teaching examples.  

IS is well positioned as a discipline, with AIS as an association, to "lead the research, teaching, practice, and study of information systems worldwide” as our mission prescribes.  Accordingly, I encourage all of us to think globally.  Having our most recent ICIS conference in Shanghai underscores this focus as do the forthcoming ECIS conference in the Netherlands and PACIS conference in Korea.   With all this in mind, we have a bright future indeed.

If you have any questions about these ideas, please contact AIS President Doug Vogel.  

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