Magazine News Blogger

Fall 2012

“Critical Analytical Thinking” Course Launched

It begins with a discussion of the formal components of logic—deductive and inductive reasoning—and a discussion of logic’s champions, Aristotle and Plato, but then it quickly devolves into real-world conundrums.

For example, what should Google do in China, given that it appears it cannot ensure the security of its servers, even from the Chinese government? Answer, the Google boys Larry and Sergey say pull all of the servers out of China and relocate them to Hong Kong.

That’s a simplification of a complex case, but it’s a real-world example of the difficult questions today’s business executives must wrestle with.

Ten Huntsman Scholars served as the inaugural class for “Critical Analytical Thinking” at the Huntsman School last spring. They were invited to debate different sides of thorny business issues. They played the roles of Sunni fighters, Shia citizens, American diplomats, and United Nations negotiators in wrestling with questions facing Iraq.

The course was taught by Senior Lecturer Christine Arrington, who graduated from Stanford Graduate School of Business and visited Stanford again to learn about its Critical Analytical Thinking course (CAT) from Dean Garth Saloner. He said Stanford puts its CAT course first, in a two-week program before the regular term begins, to throw students into the deep end, in a sense, and let them struggle with difficult questions, thereby engaging them deeply with the thorniest of problems.

Christine also attended a three-day AACSB seminar on Critical Analytical Thinking, led by Jackson Nickerson, Professor of Organization and Strategy, at the Olin School of Business, Washington University. He cited the IBM global survey of business executives that found critical analytical thinking was the number one skill desired by company executives worldwide.

The course will be offered again, for Huntsman Scholars only at this point, this coming spring.