WINTER 2017 Course: Process Facilitation Design, Prof. Frances Westley

Friday, January 20, 2017

Course Description:

Increasingly, earning a PHD does not assure success in securing an university/academic job. But the skills and expertise learned in the process of securing an advanced degree are also in demand in the private sector, the government and of course in consulting. However, technical and substantive knowledge in most cases must be married to the capacity to “think about thinking” and to process skills which allow an academic to facilitate complex problem analysis and solving for groups of academics and non-academics alike.

This course uses a problem based learning approach to teach skills that are needed for the consulting practice, community based interventions, and leading multidisciplinary research teams.  The course will introduce students to the fundamental principles of contracting, scoping a presenting problem, designing a process to help deliver a solution, facilitating that process, and writing a report.  It is particularly useful for those interested not only in research but in action, and in contributing to resolving complex problems that require multiple stakeholders to resolve, as opposed to technical problems to be studied and resolved by an analyst. Nonetheless some of the skills taught, particularly in the section on scoping and on report writing, will be useful for analysts as well.

This course will offered in four modular sessions - 1 one day (9-5) workshop and three 2-day (9-5) workshops  between January 2017 and April 2017. It is designed to introduce interested graduate students to the basic principles and skills of designing and expertly facilitating complex problem solving processes, from transdisciplinary research teams to participatory stakeholder processes. Those participating should have some experience with and competence in these processes and should be committed to attending all the four workshops in the series. The workshops will take the form of short lectures, peer learning and skill practice. There will be suggested readings attached to most workshops to be done in preparation. Students will be expected to develop a workshop design for an actual or imagined client around a problem that interests them. This course is open to UW Masters or PHD students. To register for this course please email Nina Ripley, Office Coordinator at for a permission number

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