INFX 598m
Culture, Business, and Information Management in Central Europe
2009 Exploration Seminar in Germany (Munich/Berlin)

Information School
University of Washington

OverviewCourse DescriptionProgram DetailsEligibility • Cost

Fall 2009
Instructor: Professor Hans Jochen Scholl, PhD, MBA

E-mail: jscholl {at}

Munich and Berlin, Germany
September 5-28, 2009

5 credits (see course credit information)
Seminar listserv:


The seminar will provide a unique learning opportunity for students intending to become information professionals, information systems professionals, librarians, business analysts, public administrators, international marketing and business specialists, experts in international studies and affairs, communication professionals, and other related professions.

Participants will earn 5 credits of INFX598 (Information School). The course is cross-listed in the Germanics department as German 353 and will be cross-listed throughout various other departments and schools. Participants should check with their advisors to determine how these credits may be best applied toward departmental and school requirements. Acceptance into the course is based on a written application and an interview. Classes will be taught in English. German language proficiency is not required, however an introductory German course is recommended.

Shared room accommodation for students has been reserved at the Dachau Youth Hostel (Sep 5 to 11) in close vicinity of Munich, the beautiful Munich-City Youth Hostel (Sep 11 to 25), and the Wannsee Youth Hostel (Sep 25 to 28) in Berlin. Breakfast is included.

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Course Description

Many believe that information and technology have flattened the world. However, the reality is different. Having the same piece of information in every corner of the world within a split second is one thing. What people do based on that same piece of information is another thing depending on variables such as local culture, local practices, and other local factors and processes.

Also, identical modern information technology is widely used in many, including the remotest, corners of the globe. Yet, how people use it, and how they enact the technology varies greatly. Still some die-hard belief suggests that one only needs to deploy the right information and the most advanced technology, and then by some silver-bullet magic, everything will automatically fall in place towards the same ends.

Research on information and information technology, however, consistently suggests otherwise. Even in cultures closer to ours such as Europe’s, differences in context matter a lot. Information and technologies need to be understood within their embedding cultural and business contexts. Systems need adjustments, localization, colorizations, re-compositions, and even outright redefinitions. Little understood in research and practice is what the major context challenges are when it comes to information sharing, information systems, and information management.

The seminar aims to increase students’ understanding of cultural, business, informational, and information technology-based practices in Central Europe. It will give students a rich and intense first-hand opportunity to observe local practices and challenges on site. Students will have ample networking opportunities with potential future study sites and post-graduate employers as well as local students. The seminar helps students develop a deepened understanding and appreciation of cultural and business-practice-related similarities and differences in the context of information and information technology.

We explore the topics of interest in the two metropolitan areas of Munich and Berlin. Many most advanced technology sites in Europe are located in the Munich metropolitan area., where we will spend much of our time. We will also visit Germany’s history-laden and super-vibrant capital Berlin, which will provide yet another perspective and dimension of complexity in terms of culture and history.

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Program Details

The seminar will provide an intensive immersion into this nexus of German culture, business, and information management. On weekdays, half-day field trips will explore sites of leading institutions with expert presentations on select topics. The field trips will provide students with ample opportunities to meet and engage directly and personally with myriad local institutions and experts.


Confirmed site visits and field trips will include:

  • BMW headquarters: Two trips (including a shop floor and car IT demonstration)
  • Siemens headquarters: Two trips
  • German Museum of Science and Technology: Two trips
  • Knorr-Bremse AG (including a shop floor visit)
  • The City of Munich: Two trips
  • The Dachau Memorial
  • The Technical University of Munich
  • The European Patent Office
  • The Olympic Park
  • FC Bayern Munich soccer club
Beyond the academic field trips, students in this seminar will have ample free time including most Saturdays and all Sundays to explore the cities of Munich and Berlin on their own. Coincidently, the Munich Oktoberfest opens during our seminar schedule. We will offer one excursion on one Saturday of the seminar. The trip to Berlin will include a farewell event, which will mark the end of the seminar.

The Technical University of Munich is planning to participate in the seminar with several doctoral and diploma students. This will provide special opportunities for cultural encounters and exchange between students from both countries and institutions.

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Eligibility, Pre-requisites, Expectations, and Deliverables

All students are expected to participate in two half-day long preparatory sessions before departure. These sessions will be held June 8 and 9, 2009 (see schedule page)..

Students are requested to act as the preparatory research lead in two field trips. The lead function includes the preparation of a 2-page written briefing report on the institution to be visited and the key problems envisioned to exist in the topic to be studied and presented (please see group assignment #3 for details). Students will share their written report with all participants before the field trip. On the morning of the field trip, the lead students will give a 15-min intro to the field trip to all participants.

The lead students will take extensive notes during the field trip. Based on the notes and own observations, the lead students will write a twelve-page (5,400 words) report on the topic-related insights garnered during the field trip (for example, new research questions, surprise results, etc).

After the return to the United States, students are expected to participate in a final daylong report-back event on October 17, 2009 (Saturday) at the Information School. During this event, each lead student group is requested to give a 15-min presentation on the results of the field trip, of which they had been the lead, as well as on the overall lessons learned during the seminar. The written reports will be shared with the other participants including the institutions visited. Students may invite guests to this session. However, since space is limited advance reservation will be required.


$3,400 Program Fee (includes local travel, certain entry fees, and accommodation including continental breakfast)
$200 IPE Fee (What's that?)

Additional costs include: Round trip travel to Germany, meals, drinks, immunizations, insurance, and personal spending.

Note: Since this is an early fall course, financial aid can be used & scholarships are offered.

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Last updated: Wednesday, 12-Aug-2009 05:44:01 PDT
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