George Mason University 1997-98 Catalog Catalog Index
Course Descriptions

Search the 1997-1998 Catalog:


Social and Organizational Learning Courses (LRNG)


Program on Social and Organizational Learning

492, 592 Special Topics in Social and Organizational Learning (1-3:3:0). Topics in social or organizational change seen from economic, historical, philosophical, literary, organizational, and/or information technology perspectives. Courses that first appear under this heading include Bionomics: The Economy as Ecosystem. Consult program office for descriptions. May be repeated for credit.

514 Introduction to Ethnography (3:3:0). Aimed at preparing a student to conduct qualitative empirical research in the applied social sciences. Included are ideas about and practice in field work, interviewing, participant observation, and the preparation of research reports. The course also covers the theoretical underpinnings of qualitative research (symbolic interactionism and phenomenology) as well as the various methodological phases of the research process.

551 Economics of Discourse (3:3:0). The application of economic and literary theory to the process of verbal communication, whether spoken, written, or otherwise. The transformation of literary criticism from the New Criticism toward post-structuralism is examined with the use of theories from literary criticism itself, as well as from the field of economics. The course examines the possible effects of changing technological conditions of production, or of changing composition of market demand conditions, or other economic circumstances, in the supply and demand of literary texts.

572 Taming the Electronic Frontier (3:3:0). Using the Internet as a primary medium for interactive learning, this innovative course is offered in a classroom as well as over cable TV. It establishes a dialog between producers and consumers of information-age goods by exploiting distance learning technologies such as television in combination with e-mail/ FTP/gopher/WAIS, and other groupware tools. These provide the basis for electronically mediated organizational learning exercises that challenge traditional power relationships between producers and consumers in all institutional contexts.

583 Groupware for Organizational Learning (3:3:0). This course gives students exposure to groupware systems such as Lotus Notes, the World Wide Web, and Folio Views, and the ways they can be incorporated to help organizations use knowledge more effectively. The course trains students in application development for enhancing organizational learning, and introduces them to the range of diverse software products designed to facilitate coordination and collaborative work.

592 Internet Literacy (1:1:0). A five-week, one-credit minicourse taught via the Internet and video, which provides Internet competency for distance learning initiatives across the George Mason University curriculum including concepts, skills, and software to read, search, and write hypertext for the web, and to participate in e-mail and newsgroups, for any course in the George Mason curriculum. This course uses the new campus infrastructure, cable TV, and videotape, as well as the Internet as the medium of collaborative and experiential learning and as a demonstration of best practices in distance learning.

596 Independent Study (1-12:3:0). Research, analysis, and/or implementation within the realm of social and organizational learning. Work with a member of the program faculty. May be repeated for credit.

601 Organizational Learning (3:3:0). A reexamination of organizations and the role of management from an interpretive standpoint. The course develops a process view of organizations that identifies differences in interests, perspectives, and cultures among groups and explains the role of management in facilitating understanding to achieve effective cooperation in a dynamic work environment. Themes include organizational culture, decision making, collaborative communities and team work, and the "reading" of organizational change. Case studies and experiential exercises reinforce the learning process. The course complements LRNG 672.

602 Group Dynamics and Team Learning (3:3:0). (Formerly Social Learning in Small Groups.) There is evidence that a knowledge of small group interactions significantly improves one's ability to function effectively in such contexts. Using unstructured learning environments, participants learn how to facilitate team learning for organizational effectiveness by engaging in meaningful group interaction. The course explores various aspects of group dynamics such as power, perception, motivation, leadership, and decision making.

610 Object Technology for Non-Programmers (3:3:0). (Formerly Object-Oriented Programming for Economists.) The computer is fast becoming a mode of cognitive organization, embodying fundamental principles for managing complex systems. This course introduces students in the social science, management, and other fields who need not have done any programming to the main ideas of object-oriented software design by way of the user-friendly programming environment known as Smalltalk.

612 Economics, Technology, and the Regulatory Process (3:3:0). This course conveys some fundamental economic principles useful for understanding and analyzing the regulation of industries that are undergoing rapid technological change, with a special focus on the telecommunications industry. Topics include the history of economic regulation, the theory of natural monopoly, economic efficiency and the First Amendment, competitive contracting, cost analysis, and principles of efficient regulation. The course places a special emphasis on using economics to understand and interpret current technological and regulatory trends.

672 Organizational Learning Laboratory (3:3:0). This course creates a learning and experimental environment to explore questions and concerns typically faced by managers in their effort to build learning organizations. The questions are analyzed using experiential learning and action research. Classroom group interactions and projects simulate real-world organizations. The object is to acquire competence to diagnose and analyze organizations and to develop skills to become better facilitators of organizational learning. The course complements LRNG 601.

676 Comparative Socio-Economic Systems (3:3:0). The study of fundamental alternatives in public policy. The course explores the systemic, evolutionary patterns in overall socioeconomic institutional arrangements, and examines the manner in which knowledge is discovered, changed, and communicated in social systems. Drawing on the field of complex evolving systems, this course pays particular attention to two traditions, Marxism and the Austrian School. Textual material is in Folio Views software, which facilitates a close reading and enables collaboration in earlier analysis and interpretation of texts.

681 Economics for the Professional (3:3:0). (Formerly Applied Economics.) An introduction to economics for graduate students who need to make sense of economic processes and problems, but do not require the theoretical treatment of a graduate economics program. The emphasis is on a practical understanding of economic problems, issues, and policies. The aim is to help students gain comfort and confidence with economic tools of thought. Reading and writing assignments are done in Folio Views software, which supports collaborative learning. Not for economics credit.

692, 792 Special Topics in LRNG (1-3:3:0). Topics in social or organizational change seen from economic, historical, philosophical, literary, organizational, and/or information technology perspectives. New courses that first appear under this heading include Teaching Practicum: Instructional Technologies, Philosophy of Interpretive Social Theory, Building Learning Organizations for Global Business, and Computational Modeling of Social Learning, Pricing Strategy, and Tactics. Consult program office for descriptions. May be repeated for credit.

714 Ethnography of Corporate Culture (3:3:0). Contrary to popular usage, "corporate culture" is not a simple byproduct of organization charts and advertising images, but rather the "web of meaning" that endows organizational action with its deepest significance. Like all other instances of local culture, then, corporate cultures must be studied by ethnographic methods of "thick description." After exploring conceptions of corporate culture, this course examines exemplary ethnographies of various organizations, including those of different societies, as preparation for students' own ethnographic field work and writing.

720 Market-Based Management (3:3:0). This course uses concepts from market process economics to explore nonauthoritarian forms of business organization and management. Topics include the difficulty of centralized planning, the evolution of management theory, corporate culture, teamwork, internal markets, incentives, and organizational learning. The course relies heavily on students' discussion and research to apply economic concepts to practical organizational problems.

731 Advanced Object-Oriented Technology (3:3:0). (Formerly The Economics of Software Re-use.) This course is a sequel to SWSE 631. The term object orientation is defined to include a far broader range of encapsulation and binding opportunities than programming languages usually provide. Object-oriented design is approached as a matter of making intelligent choices between the radically different kinds of objects and binding mechanisms at different levels of a heterogeneous architecture. This provides the basis for deploying commonly available software development tools in combination: from tightly coupled, fabrication-intensive tools such as C++ to loosely coupled, assembly-intensive ones such as Smalltalk.

761 Computational Modeling of Social Learning (3:3:0). Explores the processes of social interaction and the emergent (higher-order or macro-) phenomena by modeling social interaction on computers. The models are simulations of "virtual worlds" populated by a variety of "virtual agents" and they allow processes to be observed in action through visual representations of economic activity. The modeling language used is Smalltalk V/Windows 2.0, from Digitalk Corp. An aim of the course is to bring together the insights of social scientists and computational scientists, using the former's understanding of social systems and the latter's modeling principles and techniques to produce models in which the entities modeled have both the capacity of volition and varying interpretations of and strategies for dealing with their environnments.

770 (Special Topics) Pricing Strategy and Tactics (3:3:0). Participants in this course learn the techniques of strategic analysis necessary to price more profitably by evaluating the price sensitivity of buyers, determining the relevant costs for a pricing decision, anticipating and influencing competitors' pricing, and formulating pricing strategies appropriate for the market. Participants also learn tactics required to implement strategies, which will enable them to price differently to different market segments, enhance the perception of their product's value, and coordinate pricing with the other elements of marketing. The course involves the analysis of case and real-world problems as well as discussion of current events that show how to apply the techniques developed in the class.

781 Interpretive Social Theory (3:3:0). An advanced, philosophical study of the interpretive school of economics sometimes known as the "Austrians." The course weaves together Austrian ideas, epistemology, and hermeneutics. The organizing theme is the re-interpretation of the Austrian school as a radically interpretive approach to social theory. As a course in the philosophy of social science, the Austrian school is used as a detailed example of how an interpretive approach to social theory might be formulated. Course material is in the form of Folio Views hypertext, which lends itself to the close analysis to text and provides a practical way of demonstrating and appreciating the value of interpretive social theory.

796 Independent Study (1-12:3:0). Research, analysis, and/or implementation within the realm of social and organizational learning. Work with a member of the program faculty. May be repeated for credit.

868 Business, Government, and the International Economy (3:3:0). A broad overview of international development and trade since World War II. The course covers the growth strategies of developed countries (e.g., the United States, Germany, Japan) as well as developing countries (e.g., Brazil, India, China). Designed to give students a broad understanding of the modern world's system of political economy shaped by national policies, international agreements, and business activity, almost all the instruction is by case method.


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