The project “Educating Stewards of Public Information in the 21st Century” (ESOPI-21), was a three-year collaboration between SILS and the SOG at UNC-CH, sponsored by the Institute for Museum and Library Services (IMLS). The project sought to prepare the next generation of public information stewards by building on the existing dual degree program offered jointly by UNC-CH’s School of Information and Library Science and its School of Government. By developing fellowships, curricula, courses, and experiential components designed specifically for the needs of public sector information professionals, this project provides graduate students interested in public information curation and public policy the skills needed to become leaders in public information curation and public policy administration.
ESOPI-21 was based on the belief that the stewardship of public information is a fundamental responsibility of a democratic society. Public information (e.g. agency records, government publications, datasets) serves as evidence of governmental activities, decisions, and responsibilities at the local, county, state, and federal levels. Providing appropriate access to public information promotes accountability, rights of citizens, effective administration of policy, and social memory.
A sister project, “Educating Stewards of Public Information Infrastructure” (ESOPI2), extended the reach of ESOPI-21 by developing educational and professional engagement opportunities to prepare for the stewardship of public information and the integration of policy with information technology solutions and workflows. The ESOPI2 project funded new cohorts of graduate-level Fellows, who pursued dual degrees at SILS and the SOG, and provided internships for the Fellows at the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources, Archives and Records Section (NC-ARS), UNC-CH’s University Archives, the Town of Chapel Hill, NC, North Carolina’s Orange County Office of the CIO, NC-LIVE, UNC’s Environmental Finance Center, and the Odum Institute for Research in Social Science.