Course Title: Great Thinkers: exploring key ideas and their application to current practice

Part A: Course Overview

Course Title: Great Thinkers: exploring key ideas and their application to current practice

Credit Points: 12

Course Code




Learning Mode

Teaching Period(s)


City Campus


660H Grad School of Bus and Law


Sem 1 2009,
Sem 1 2010,
Sem 1 2011

Course Coordinator: Professor Peter Sheldrake

Course Coordinator Phone: +61 3 9925 0113

Course Coordinator

Course Coordinator Location: 158.3.1

Pre-requisite Courses and Assumed Knowledge and Capabilities


Course Description

The great thinkers of the past have had a major impact on the way in which we see the world today, the approach we take to work, and to the values we hold as important. This course is intended to explore some of these great thinkers’ ideas, and see how they relate to contemporary organisational practice.

The course places a premium on reading, as for each week there will be an extract – usually some 10-15 pages long. It is expected that students will have read the extract, and be ready to take part in a roundtable discussion, conducted Socratic style.

The course aims to develop students’ analytical skills, while at the same time helping them to gain a better understanding of some of the philosophical traditions that underlie current theory and practice.

It provides an opportunity to learn about some of the people whose writings – and teaching – have had a major impact, and at the same time practice the skills of debate and argument.

This course provides a moderated discussion of the ideas of great thinkers of the past, and the application of their ideas to contemporary orgainsiations and society.  It uses the socratic approach, whereby discussion is based on questioning the text, and then exploring its implications.

Objectives/Learning Outcomes/Capability Development

This course is designed to develop skills in analytical thinking.

At the end of this Course, you should be able to:
• Understand some of the major streams of thinking over the past 2,500 years
• Be able to distinguish the philosophical bases of some of the schools of thought that have influenced contemporary thinking

• Practice the skills of debate and argument
• Decide on and employ the most appropriate tactics for a given negotiation
• Understand and be better equipped to investigate the arguments underlying a point of view or discussion paper
• Have a heightened awareness of the important role that great thinkers in the past have had
The overall outcome will be a enhanced understanding of the source and relevance of ideas that impact on current analysis and practice within organisations

Overview of Learning Activities

The course is undertaken in a roundtable, facilitated discussion mode, using a Socratic approach. Students will be expected to have read the set extract before each discussion. Participation in the course requires participation in all the 3 hour classes: the individual assignment will be based on the class based discussions, and will be a reflective piece of writing.

We understand that this is not always possible and that from time to time there are circumstances that make it impossible to attend a class (for example, your employer requires you to travel interstate on short notice, or you have an injury or illness to yourself or a family member etc). We can give special consideration for such circumstances for non attendance at 2 classes (3 in exceptional circumstances). With respect to work commitments you should be proactive and take responsibility for ensuring that your employer understands these requirements of you before you enroll for this course. Failure to meet these participation conditions means that you will not only not receive a satisfactory participation mark but you will also not be in a position to satisfy the assessment tasks (which include detailed treatment of class experiences), and will result in a Fail grade being recorded.

Overview of Learning Resources

Students will be supplied with full set of readings

Overview of Assessment

Assessment is based on the following two components:

• Participation in class discussions
• A reflective paper

No other forms of assessment are available for this course