FIS2306H –An Introduction to Service Science

Course Syllabus

Winter 2009

Instructor : Kelly Lyons

Email :

Phone : 416-946-3839

Office : 45 Willcocks (south east corner with Spadina) #314

Office Hours : By appointment


Course Description:

Service science is a new, interdisciplinary field that combines social science, business, and engineering knowledge needed for individuals and organizations (private, public, or non-profit) to succeed in the shift to the service and information-based economy.

Even as this new field emerges, there is little agreement on what constitutes a service. Common concepts suggest that services are: intangible, perishable, experiential, and co-produced between consumers and providers.  Many services involve information-intensive practices.   This course examines services in the context of the information economy. 

There is a need for innovation in services to bring social and economic benefit to organizations and individuals. Information-intensive services are especially important.  One challenge to systematic service innovation is the interdisciplinary nature of services, integrating across technology, domain-specific issues, and social and cultural implications.

The topic of service science supports the Faculty of Information’s vision of providing leadership in the future of information practice as society is transformed by the rise of digital technologies of computation, communication, and information.  The second goal of the Faculty of Information is exploring the future of information practice generally.  In every global market, the service sector is the fastest growing sector.  Service is a major component of information practice in the future. The scale of this growth and speed of labour migration is unparalleled in human history.  Organizations and institutions are seeing significant shifts in the amount of their activity which is based in services.

This course covers several aspects of service science including service systems, modeling, innovation, and service oriented architectures.  Students will study each of these aspects of services in the context of their field of research (such as library systems, museums and archives, or information systems). This course will investigate the nature of services, the need for interdisciplinary approaches to services innovation, and the technology and tools needed to provide services innovation. 


Course Objectives

At the end of this course, students will be able to:

In addition to learning the specific course material, students will also:

This course is of interest to students who want to expand their knowledge and skills by reading papers in new areas and experimenting with on-line tools, who want to study an emerging field with potential for future careers, who want to apply their experience and knowledge in a new environment, and to those who enjoy working collaboratively and participating in group discussions.

Teaching Strategy / Pedagogy

This course employs a mix of lectures, readings and critiques, case studies, guest lecturers, hands-on tool experience, contributions to wiki, blog posts, presentations, and in-class activities (individual and in groups).

This is a professional masters program and PhD-level course. We will learn together, from one another, and relate the knowledge learned through the course to our past experiences and imagined future opportunities and activities.   I will provide an outline and structure for the course, present lectures, define assignments, and assign readings, but students will largely define the area in which they apply their acquired knowledge and will be asked to contribute and share relevant materials and perspectives as well. The interaction among students and their collaborative work are essential in making the course a success. Students are expected to bring and relate past experiences along with knowledge they are gaining through other courses to the topics discussed in class in order to complement their own learning experience and that of their classmates.   The course material will be made available on Sakai and all students will be asked to contribute material and discussion on the course Sakai wiki as part of class participation.

Students should be comfortable reading and critiquing research papers, finding resources and information, and using new software and tools. See also my general teaching philosophy and class expectations.

Course Outline

This course is broken into four main topic areas each covered in approximately one quarter of the course:

  1. Introduction to Services Science, Services, Service Systems:  What is it?  Why is it important? Why is it interesting? Definitions and theories and how they apply (or not) to real service systems
  2. Modeling: Using modeling techniques to understand and analyze services
  3. Innovation in Services:  What new ways of doing business or new business models including social computing techniques can be used to enhance services?  
  4. Service Oriented Architectures (SOA) and Web Services:  How can SOA and Web Services help implement and architect service systems?

We conclude by discussing service science curriculum at other institutions.

The detailed course outline is given here.

Assignments and Grading

The course evaluation is made up of class participation, assignments, and reading critiques.  Grades will be assigned accordingly:


Due Date


Participation (in class and on-line)

On-going (report due: April 7 9am)


Reading Critique

To be determined based on sign-up schedule


Assignment 1 Report (Analyzing service systems)

February 10, 9am on Sakai


Assignment 2 Essay (Evaluating existing  service science research)

March 10 17, 9am on Sakai


Assignment 3 Essay (Modeling and innovating service systems)

April 7, 9am on Sakai


See more information about what I expect in papers and reports here. A strict late policy is enforced: An assignment which has not been submitted by 9am on the due date (as indicated by its Sakai time stamp) will be subject to a penalty of 10% of its value immediately, and to an additional penalty of 2% of its value at 9am on each day thereafter that it remains outstanding.

Additional Readings

Assigned readings are listed in the Detailed Course Outline here.  An additional reading list is given here that can augment assigned readings