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Archive for April, 2008

April e-newsletter

Dear all,

Henley is a great place for contemplation, if you can find the time, and this month I have been thinking a lot about systemics. As any fule kno’, (and to quote Wikipedia) “systemics is an emerging branch of science that studies holistic systems”. None the wiser? Well, read on…

My current interest comes from the reading I am doing for my PhD, where a focus at the moment is on looking at Critical Reflection in management education/development using approaches from multisystemic family therapy. One of the side-effects of that is not only do I see complex systems everywhere, I am able to make and internalise connections that just weren’t there before.

I think this highlights a phenomenon that, extrapolating from entries many of you are making in your online Learning Journals, could be common to everyone studying for their MBA via distance learning, namely (and as a direct result of the MBA) the creation of new patterns of of thinking. Not just knowing more stuff, but actually having the mental language to think in another way. It’s a subtle distinction, but one that marks the difference between a ‘tick-the-box’, lego-brick MBA and one that gives you more choices and which places you more in tune with your environment.

That’s another, and rather long-winded, way of saying how much I am enjoying the interaction with you all, either via your online learning journals, or emails, or meetings here at the College. Keep it up!

Home Straight Community up-date

Let’s begin with a quick reminder to all of you who are studying at Part Three via a Henley-Based intake, and are beyond your scheduled Dissertation due date – Mike Green and Richard Lacey are preparing their next meeting here at Greenlands, on Sunday May 18th. Charlotte Ordish is organising the workshop, which will include sessions on the differences between qualitative and quantitative research, managing your Supervisor and tips and hints from those who have finished their projects recently.

For those of you studying via one of the Henley Associate Network locations, please keep in touch with your local administrator for any forthcoming dissertation events.

Back in the UK, the next Dissertation Clinic is on June 6th, and is being organised by Kim Harris, who can be contacted for details.

Possible Dissertation Topic

Once again, I am thankful to Christine van Winkelen, who has forwarded me this opportunity. Christine writes:

“I do feel that one of our other projects would also lend itself to being a great opportunity for a student to produce a dissertation. It involves a new perspective on social network analysis and there are some great companies involved in it (the Global Chief Knowledge Officer of Vodafone is co-leading the project with us). If you have any other students who are looking for a project and can fulfil the criteria below, then please do put them in touch with me urgently.”

Reading Merger Up-date

You may already have heard this by now, but just to confirm that the Henley Management College Court of Governors met for the second time on April 23rd and ratified their decision to support the merger. After Reading have met in early May to do the same, the process moves up a gear and begins to take on a very much more operational tone. The College will continue to provide fortnightly up-dates, which I won’t repeat here.

In fact, I’ve been fairly quiet on the whole subject and the main reason is that it just hasn’t affected the day-to-day business of the Distance Learning MBA. Our focus has been on delivering the same quality, maintaining the same listening ear to learning issues you might have and planning for future intakes (by the way, May and June will see new intakes in the UK, Trinidad and Malta). For me, this is a very good sign that the thing we treasure most, the good Henley name and ambience, is what this deal is all about. For sure, there will be plenty of change and plenty of new opportunities post-merger, but I am confident that the return on your investment, whether emotional or material, will remain intact.

As we head into the more pragmatic portion of the change, I will endeavour to keep you posted.

July Family Day

Every year the College organises an open day for programme members and their families. This year it will be held on July 5th. To find out what goes on, and how last year’s went, see this link http://www.henleymc.ac.uk/henleymc03.nsf/pages/alumni_membersday2007

I hope that some of you studying outside the UK will also get the chance to come along and soak up (in a non-rainy way) some of the Henley atmosphere.

In May’s newsletter I will be reporting on the Graduation ceremony (the first at which it is my role to read out all the graduating names!), the course reps meeting, and I’ll be giving you some information from the Board of Examiners on average grades achieved for the various MBA assignments and exams – showing you that you almost certainly are doing better than you think!

May is going to be hectic round here, but I’d still like to be posting several things during the month. Also, don’t forget that the Henley group on LinkedIn is still growing!

Chris Dalton
Director of Studies

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A visit to the Apartheid Museum

Whilst in South Africa, I managed to take some time away from Henley work to visit the much-publicised Apartheid Museum. I was urged to do so by a number of locals, but I’m not sure how many of them had actually been there themselves. Such is the way – as a Londoner, I would frequently encourage visitors to go and see an attraction I had never witnessed myself.

So, a taxi drive across the city, through the downtown area, past the immense plateaus formed by the waste from the gold mines that Johannesburg, in every sense, is built on, and arrival at the museum at the edge of the Soweto township. Right next to the museum is a large Casino, which is next to a small amusement park, built loosely around the theme of gold mining. The Gold Reef park has maintained the mine shafts, which allow visitors to descend to view a rough approximation of a gold mine.

The concrete architecture of the Apartheid museum reminded me a little of Yad Vashem, the holocaust memorial in Jerusalem. On the day I visited, the museum was experiencing some technical problems (perhaps in connection with the frequent scheduled power outtages that are plaguing the country at present) and not all the exhibits were working. It was still open, but not charging admission.

I spent nearly two hours there, before being ushered out early by very polite security guards. They apparently wanted to fix the technical issues, which had perhaps been made worse by the gigantic thunderstorm that had hit whilst I was inside.

There were several things that remain with me about the museum and its contents:

1. The way in which the absurd logic of apartheid reached down to such mundane levels of what the rest of us take for granted as daily life. Over time, the system’s internal logic meant that everything had to labelled, often with (if it weren’t for the brutality with which it was imposed and maintained) farcical results. It comes across as a whole society built on fear, an emotion which can never produce anything positive.

2. For the first time in my life, I was viewing authentic exhibits, evidence of oppression, written in my own native language. Growing up in the UK, I find it easy to equate my language with being on the moral high ground. Of course, this is a fallacy. Not only were the British heavily involved in the history of southern Africa, and of the events which produced the leaders who framed the apartheid law, there are perhaps dozens of other instances in my country’s history where the language of the oppressor has been my own.

3. It was fascinating to learn about apartheid and draw inspiration directly from the experiences of those who lived in it, fought against it and sometimes died because of it. One of those is Stephen Biko, and there was a very good temporary exhibition about him and his short life.

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