In our Information Era many efforts have been dedicated to the attainment of social- inclusion, participation and sustainability around information science & technology. Biospheric, economic and social sustainability represents regional and global challenges to be faced. To this end, information and related technologies have proven to have the potential of bringing about social development and inclusion, as well as a tremendous capability to manage available resources; but also the danger of increasing dependency and inequality. Thus seizing control of information is of utmost importance today and particularly in Latin America (LA) where so many divides can be bridged over or deepened.
In the global endeavour of seizing control of information, many communities of information studies –as well in the natural science pole as in the humanities and social sciences- have been created in the last decades, trying to promote a deep understanding of the manifold information phenomena, though following divergent approaches and interests. The lack of communication among these diverse points of view –due to academic and geographic profound clefts– has hinder a better understanding of information in its genuine variety and a better attainment of the interests at stake. Therefore an interdisciplinary approach to information has been claimed at different levels as a precondition for facing scientific and societal challenges. The presence of information at the formal, natural, technical, social, and human sciences constitutes an opportunity for bridging over academic disciplines, thus providing a backbone for an integrated Higher Education (HE) of global reach and social interest. This is the goal of the proposed action, promoted by the domusBITae initiative (http://stylusbitae.bitrum.unileon.es/) which supports other international activities aimed at the constitution of a global e-Science & Education environment for interdisciplinary information studies.
Contributing to a global sustainable information society requires interdisciplinary research and international cooperation as recognized within the European effort to build a trustworthy and democratic information society. The territory for a fruitful cooperation in this field is settled: on the one hand, by the European co-operation programmes with LA for the promotion of the information society and its related infrastructures (@LIS, ALICE, redCLARA, RETINA, etc.), as well as the aforementioned domusBITae initiative and other cooperation programmes with LA HE in which the proponents partake; on the other hand, because this trend has a relevant LA ground provided by administrative and civil efforts in the realm of digital libraries, accessibility and inclusiveness.
Concerning the alignment of the action to ALFA III objective and priorities:
· To the overall objective of developing HEI in LA as means to stimulate development: the action aims at fostering the Information Society throughout an innovative cross-disciplinary approach impacting in future professionals and collaborative research.
· To the specific objective of improving the quality, relevance and access to HE in LA: Quality of education will be boosted thanks to the cross-disciplinary approach impacting future generations in information sciences and facilitating overall and open access to information society.
· To the specific objective of strengthening the regional integration in HE: Starting from previous work from the European network of universities, both at EU and LA level should be able to expand a common set of best practices in the studies, and educational programmes of common interest.
· To the priority of reforming and modernizing HE in LA with attention to disadvantaged groups: on the one hand, social inclusion and social sustainability –understood as attainment of fairness- is one of the basic goals of the proposal, on the other, some participants represent countries of lowest income, and furthermore the initiative aims at outreaching at the regional level reducing existing divides.
· To the priority of contributing to the creation of a common area of HE in LA: The expected results will deliver a common educational area (EU & LA) of interdisciplinary skills connected to the stakeholders.
· To the priority of promoting cooperation and networking: A high level of networking is envisaged from the openness of consortia. The virtual community supported by a new e-infrastructure will facilitate future cooperation and networking to generate multiple projects and increasing social impact (http://stylusbitae.bitrum.unileon.es/the-team).
Concerning the alignment of the action to Lot1 – joint projects:
· To the objective of encouraging exchanges and implementation in LA: Proposes the exchange from EU previous experiences around multidisciplinary faculties and aims to implement it with 7 LA HEIs partners.
· To the objective of achieving tangible results in social cohesion: Expected actions and implementations must provide advances in the creation and improvement of educational system which shall reduce the divide in the access to HE, that can be measured as a significant deviance of target educational groups in the developed learning programmes with respect to the average at each country.
· To the objective of being innovative and relevant to local or regional needs: The proposed project opens a new and innovative focus to assess the information studies in interdisciplinary scenarios which must deliver a high impact for citizens in the “Information Society”.
· To the objective of potential replicability: A high level of replicability is foreseen in the action due to its interdisciplinary and open nature that can easily be allocated within a broad spectrum of curricula.
· To the objective of delivering pilot projects: The actions will be implemented in real working conditions in the whole partners (EU and LA).
In order to attain the intended cross-fertilisation among information studies, to deliver related educational programmes, and to foster R&D projects of social interest, the action pursues threefold objective: (1) the broadening and consolidation of an open e-Science environment for the cross-disciplinary study of information at a regional and global scale, aimed at promoting an interdisciplinary culture; (2) the development of cross-disciplinary educational programmes based on the natural, technical, social and human aspects of information, aimed at contributing to the erection of a Common Higher Education Area; (3) the development of R&D interdisciplinary projects of social relevance contributing to the attainment of a local and global sustainable information society.
Preliminary and relevant supports to the attainment of the intended goals are provided by: (i) the pilot open infrastructure developed under domusBITae initiative (which interdisciplinary multilingual glossarium has achieved significant impact in LA, http://glossarium.bitrum.unileon.es); (ii) the Latin American and Caribbean Collaborative ICT Research Federation (LACCIR, http://www.laccir.org/) coordinated by the Catholic University of Chile; (iii) The Association EDICIC (Educación y Investigación en Ciencia de la Información de América Latina y Caribe) integrated by LA and Spanish HEIs for the promotion of Information Science.
For the development of the action three major phases are envisaged: (P1) Design of: interdisciplinary educational programmes, and e-Infrastructure (including basic development); (P2) Development of: joint cross-disciplinary educational programmes (including content creation in preliminary infrastructure), advanced e-Science & Education Infrastructure; (P3) Pilot projects of: join education programmes, and R&D projects.
Milestones: (Mi1) Kick-off Meeting; (Mi2) Specifications of: e-Infrastructure, Education Programmes and Assessment Criteria; (Mi3) Basic infrastructures launch and press release; (Mi4) Advanced infrastructure launch; (Mi5) Approved pilots of joint educational programmes; (Mi6) Pilots programmes launch; (Mi7) R&D Projects presentation; (Mi8) Assessment of impact; (Mi9) Final report.
Relevant Networking activities: Annual Meeting; Research and Student Exchanges.
According with previous experiences, coordinated by domusBITae (Europe, Asia and US), we list herewith a catalogue of potential risks that could affect the implementation of the action and the corrective measures planned to mitigate its effects.
Furthermore, it is relevant pointing out that the applicant has not made assumptions nor impose preconditions to the participating universities in virtue of the high capacity of ALCIONE action to contribute with flexibility to the development of Higher Education in LA because of its cross-disciplinary nature.
Partners and associates shall ensure that after the action the corresponding stakeholders further the education programmes in order to strengthen the regional HE integration process, further the initiated interdisciplinary research in information studies, and outreach the collaboration with industry.
3.2 Plan of operation: long-term sustainable impact
Sustainability has been secured in the action from the conception, considering the next contributions of the ALCIONE initiative:
1. The strategic vision of ALCIONE foresees delivering of scientific and educational contents to implement the intended improvements on the participant HEIs by means of real-pilot scenarios.
2. The project will also provide a lasting e-Infrastructure that shall be maintained by the leader in virtue of the long-term support committed by the domusBITae consortium (http://stylusbitae.bitrum.unileon.es/) and the Supercomputing Center of Castilla y León (Spain, http://www.fcsc.es).
3. Concerning the sustainability of the Educational Programmes, it will be supported by the aforementioned LACCIR (Latin American and Caribbean Collaborative ICT Research Federation) and EDICIC (Educación y Investigación en Ciencia de la Información de América Latina y Caribe) (sec. 2.1)
4. Within the action, and related to its long-term sustainability, some strategic activities are envisaged:
̶ Promotion to stakeholders, including HEI, industry, public agents, society.
̶ Replicability assessment throughout a consulting group from the partner-consortium increasing the impact on other universities and incorporating more experts.
̶ Open e-Science environment linked to scientific publishing actors to facilitate visibility, impact and cooperation.
5. After the action, some of future resources shall be mobilised thanks to the e-Infrastructure as an effective tool for international project cooperation.
6. The partners consider that the promoted ability to cope with real problems of the Information Society in an innovative and cross-disciplinary modus operandi, will allow gaining access to diverse source of private and public funds.
 Cooperation programme Brasil-Spain (s. Sanchez-Cuadrado, S, Morato, J. et al. (2010). "A study of labour market information needs through employers' seeking behaviour" Information Research, 15(4), paper 441. Available at http://InformationR.net/ir/15-4/paper441.html); “Biblio-dominicana” project aimed at the promotion of the information studies <http://bibliodominicana.kr.inf.uc3m.es/>; ALFA III-PILA: Red de Propiedad Intelectual en LA” <http://www.pila-network.org/>. It is also worth mentioning the already impact in LA of the glossarium BITri developed under domusBITae initiative.