MB 119 Spring '00
Interpersonal Communication
Prof. Borgatti


This course is about the social relationships that bind people together in families, organizations, and societies. We examine what flows between people (paying particular attention to rumors and gossip) and how the structure of the network of relationships in which an individual is embedded affects what happens in that network. 

Toward the end of the course we look at specific issues in the communication between two people, particularly obstacles to effective communication such as cultural and gender differences.

The format of the course is mostly lecture at the beginning of the semester, and mostly class (and e-mail) discussion by the end of the semester. I keep the workload light, but in return I expect everyone to keep up with the reading and contribute to class discussion.

Important note: Some of the material on social networks gets pretty technical. If this is not what you are looking for, please do not take this course! You have been warned!



Most of the work in this course is in the form of homework exercises and papers. For the most part, the objective of all of them is to apply concepts learned in class to your own lives. There is no midterm exam, but there is a final exam. Here is the breakdown of assignments:

Assignment Points
Participation 10
Homeworks 15
Rumor Paper 20
Communication Paper 20
Final Exam 35

Part of class participation will be to maintain an ongoing discussion via email with the entire class. You are expected to send at least one messages a week to the class. One of your first assignments is to sign up with the class listserv

Note: it is important to keep up with the reading in this course. You must keep up or you will be unable to participate in the class discussions, which will make class uncomfortable for everyone. IMPORTANT NOTE: if you have not done the reading, I prefer that you don't come to class at all (however, this will lower your class participation grade, so please, just do the reading!).

There is a final exam covering the entire course, worth one quarter of your grade.



I do not grade on a curve. This means that it is technically possible for the entire class to get an "A", but is extremely unlikely. Normally, the median grade in this class is a B+. I usually grade all assignments by giving a percentage score, like "82%". Percentages translate to letter grades as follows:

Percentage Range Letter Grade
93.4 - 100 A
90.0 - 93.3 A-
86.7 - 89.9 B+
83.4 - 86.6 B
80.0 - 83.3 B-
76.7 - 79.9 C+
73.4 - 76.6 C
70.0 - 73.3 C-
66.7 - 69.9 D+
63.4 - 66.6 D
60.0 - 63.3 D-
0.0 - 59.9 F

Class (and listserv) participation is graded according to the amount of quality contribution to the discussion. Quality contribution means that it is relevant and expressed in an appropriate manner. Since part of the purpose of the listserv is to foster communications and relationships among class members, messages on the listserv can be about non-course material. However, I also watch for messages on the topic of communication, and reward students accordingly.

NOTE: you must send email from your own email account in order to get credit for it.



The required texts are:

In addition, we will be reading several journal articles. Some will be available from the class website. Others are available from online sources provided by the library, such as JSTOR. Others are available in hardbound volumes at the library. There is no coursepack -- instead, you must (learn to) use the library and the web effectively. 

Important: Because everybody does their homework at the very last minute, it can be very difficult to get hold of  journal volumes.   I STRONGLY advise going to the library NOW and making copies of the articles. Get together with a few friends and make multiple copies.

Copyright 1997-2000 Stephen P. Borgatti Revised: March 21, 2000 Home Page