For participants in one graduate program, the advice "Don't quit your day job" has taken on new meaning. Commuting to the University nightly, students in the Graduate Professional Development Program pursue a master's degree in the "Dynamics of Organization" -- studying the businesses in which they work during the day. Participants in the Dynamics of Organization program, which is run through the School of Arts and Sciences, study while continuing full-time careers outside the University as managers in business, industry, health care and education. Their ongoing work experience provides the basis for much of their studies, and allows them to immediately apply what they learn. "Instead of inventing a case of a widget in an XYZ company, we have 15 cases sitting around the table," said Program Director Stephen Gale, an associate professor of Regional Science. The program's 700 participants choose from about 30 seminars each semester, completing 10 in approximately four years in order to graduate. The seminars are limited to about 15 students. "I've found that the program is actually better than I thought it would be," said Marc Rayfield, sales manager for WIP-AM, Philadelphia's all-sports radio station. "In terms of practical applications, I find that I use things I've learned every day." The program extends outside the classroom in other ways. As part of an International Summer Seminars series, participants took seminars in Japan earlier this year. Pamela Little, president of her own Philadelphia consulting firm, PROCA Consultants, said the trip included personal interviews with Japanese marketers, tours of Japanese health care facilities and speeches by leaders in Japanese corporations. "Essentially you're there, which certainly gives you a different perspective than if you're taking a course on Japan and it's thousands of miles away," Little said. Both directors and participants said that efforts have been made to encourage "networking" domestically as well, including brunches, newsletters and lectures. Participants are also members of the University's Faculty Club, where they gather for refreshments before evening classes. "Once the Dynamics of Organization made the Faculty Club available before classes they had a great turnout," said Bill Mitchell, a participant and chairperson of the student steering committee. "You find out a lot of them get together after classes to discuss the readings and what was discussed in classes." Mitchell, who called the program "participatory education," said he chooses seminars that fit in with his work managing a china and crystal business in Valley Forge, and with his work in financial consulting. The program attracts participants from New York, Maryland and Delaware.Comments powered by Disqus
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