Syllabus

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Course Description

15.875 explores how organizations can use system dynamics to achieve important goals. Student teams work with managers to tackle the clients' most pressing issues. Students discuss experiences with their clients, and learn the modeling and consulting skills they need to be effective. Projects are sponsored by diverse organizations from a range of industries and sizes from start-ups to the Fortune 500. This course focuses on gaining practical insight from the system dynamics process, and appeals to people interested in system dynamics, consulting, or managerial policy-making.

Course Format

This project-based course meets for two 90-minute sessions each week. Prof. James Hines lectures in the first meeting of each week, while keeping the class highly interactive. In the other session, the class splits into two or three groups for "break out sessions" led by Prof. Hines or a teaching assistant. In each of these sessions, students give presentations to the group about the project work they've done the previous week.

At the first class, students form groups of two to four members and are given a list of potential project topics. Each project is sponsored by a company or organization, who will act as the students' client throughout the semester. Once the topic is chosen, the teams follow the "standard method" in completing their projects, which is described step-by-step on the projects page.

Textbook

Chapters are assigned weekly from the course textbook:

Amazon logo Schein, Edgar H. Process Consultation Revisited: Building the Helping Relationship. Prentice Hall, 1998. ISBN: 020134596X.

(The textbook is secondary to the handouts listed under lecture notes.)

Grading

A student's grade for the course is based on his or her performance on the team project.