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February 6, 1997

Information ethics fund gets grant

Pitt's School of Information Sciences (SIS) has been awarded a $100,000 grant by the Scaife Family Foundation for its Information Ethics Fund.

According to SIS Dean Toni Carbo, most of the money from the three-year grant will be used to support the school's information ethics courses and programs.

A portion of the grant also will be used to support an information ethics fellow. The graduate student chosen for the fellowship will work with faculty member Stephen Almagno to develop the information ethics course and produce a World Wide Web page. The student also will assist with the Dean's Forum on Information Ethics.

Developed by Carbo and Almagno, SIS's information ethics course was the first such course in the country taught in a library and information science program when it was offered in 1990. Since its inception, more than 250 master's level students in SIS have taken the course, as have students in business, medicine and law.

"Information ethics affects everyone," Carbo said. "Rarely does a day pass without some information ethics-related issue being at the center of a front-page news story. Even a recent episode of the popular TV medical drama 'ER' devoted a major storyline to the ethical issues related to an individual's privacy and accessing an employee's personnel records." The Scaife Family Foundation grant is the largest of nearly 30 gifts and pledges, totaling about $190,000, that have been made to the Information Ethics Fund since its creation last year.

"With the growth of the global information infrastructure, access to information of all kinds is easier and more prevalent," Carbo noted. "Balancing the needs and interests of the individual with those of society presents difficult ethical challenges. We all must be prepared to make decisions regarding the responsible and ethical use of this information."

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