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Graduate Course Proposal Form Submission Detail - COM6421

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Current Status: Approved, Permanent Archive - 2004-03-18
Submission Type:
Course Change Information (for course changes only):

  1. Department and Contact Information

    Tracking Number Date & Time Submitted
    2018 2003-10-27
    Department College Budget Account Number
    Communication AS 1217000
    Contact Person Phone Email
    Gil Rodman 9743025

  2. Course Information

    Prefix Number Full Title
    COM 6421 Communication and Systems Practice

    Is the course title variable? N
    Is a permit required for registration? N
    Are the credit hours variable? N
    Is this course repeatable?
    If repeatable, how many times? 0

    Credit Hours Section Type Grading Option
    3 D - Discussion (Primarily) R - Regular
    Abbreviated Title (30 characters maximum)
    Comm and Systems Practice
    Course Online? Percentage Online


    Graduate Standing



    Course Description

    Systems theories offer possibilities for understanding interconnections and emergence, identities and environments, and stability and change, with communication processes being central. We explore social systems principles by linking theory and praxis.

  3. Justification

    A. Please briefly explain why it is necessary and/or desirable to add this course.

    This course has been offered several times previously as a special topics course, each time with very positive results. It brings ideas of ecological thinking in connection with communication theory, and allows for an exploration of assumptions that form

    B. What is the need or demand for this course? (Indicate if this course is part of a required sequence in the major.) What other programs would this course service?

    There is a lot of demand for a course in systems approaches both in the department and in other departments. In the past, students from other social science programs have taken this course, as have students in other colleges (education and business, for example). Several students have used key ideas of systems in their thesis and doctoral work, with this course being fundamental to their progress. While rooted in concerns with applied areas and practice (such as organizational communication), the course has appeal for students in non-applied areas as well, including performance and cultural studies.

    C. Has this course been offered as Selected Topics/Experimental Topics course? If yes, how many times?

    Yes, this course has been offered several times previously (three) as a special topics course.

    D. What qualifications for training and/or experience are necessary to teach this course? (List minimum qualifications for the instructor.)

    Ph.D. in Communication or closely related field.

  4. Other Course Information

    A. Objectives

    In this course we will:

    Develop a situated understanding of systems theory in the context of philosophical traditions.

    Develop basic principles of systems theory.

    Create, through hands-on exercises, ways of linking systems thinking to everyday situations.

    Create an understanding of the importance of communication processes in systems approaches.

    Develop ways of understanding and transforming social systems, and develop a systems practice.

    Learn about systems practice through a sustained class project.

    Make clear differences and relationships between observed and observing systems and related constructivist ideas.

    B. Learning Outcomes

    Students completing this course will:

    Understand basic systems principles

    Understand and work from concepts central to systems thinking, such as self-organization, self-regulation, chaos and complexity.

    Develop a deep understanding of one core concept and how to write a concept paper about this.

    Be able translate their systemic understanding into practical knowledge.

    Learn how to apply systems principles to the relationships in their own groups in the course of doing a collaborative project.

    Be able to understand and utilize key communication ideas that lie at the core of systems approaches.

    Be able to understand and act from principles of second order cybernetics, including the responsibility and ethics of observing systems.

    C. Major Topics

    Basic principles of systems theory

    Observed and observing systems

    The role of communication process in systems

    Self-organization and dissipative structures

    Self-reference and paradox

    Field theories

    Therapeutic systems and the role of the helper

    Chaos theory and complex adaptive systems

    Second order cybernetics

    Designing systems

    Systems, responsibility and ethics

    Development of a systems Practice

    D. Textbooks

    Bateson, Gregory, Mary Catherine Bateson. Steps to an Ecology of Mind. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000 (originally published in 1972).New edition, 2000

    Capra, Fritjof. The Web of Life. New York: Doubleday, 1996.

    McWhinney, Will. Of Paradigms and Systems Theories. Santa Monica, CA: Enthusion, Inc, 1999

    Keeney, Bradford P. The Aesthetics of Change. New York: Guilford, 1983.

    Varela, Francisco J. Ethical Know-How: Action, wisdom, and cognition. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1999.

    Wheatley, Margaret, J. Leadership and the New Science.(second edition). San Francisco:

    E. Course Readings, Online Resources, and Other Purchases

    F. Student Expectations/Requirements and Grading Policy

    G. Assignments, Exams and Tests

    H. Attendance Policy

    I. Policy on Make-up Work

    J. Program This Course Supports

  5. Course Concurrence Information

- if you have questions about any of these fields, please contact or