Social Networks and Society

Freshmen students enrolled in Social Networks and Society, a Byrne Freshman Seminar taught by communication department professors Matthew Weber and Marya Doerfel, are learning about how forms of communication affect opportunities to achieve goals and to manage relationships.  One aspect of that involves examining how organizations build inter-organizational networks to address critical communications needed to ensure the balance between business development and community preservation.

On 14 September, students heard  the developer's point of view first-hand by visiting the South Street Seaport District redevelopment project happening in New York City. During their behind-the-scenes tour of the reconstruction site of Pier 17, Byrne seminar freshmen learned about the communication and relationship challenges from from those leading the project. Executives talked about how nurturing inter-organizational networks for such large scale projects is an ongoing and critical part of their jobs. Communicating with stakeholders begins long before applying for permits and continues long after project entitlements have been received. Students heard and saw how various constituents all require effective communication and consistent cooperation including building contractors and subcontractors, architects and engineers, politicians, local citizen groups, temporary and long-term retail shops, governmental agencies, and future retail occupants, to name a few.

When they return to the classroom, the Byrne students will turn to online sources to triangulate their understanding of the Seaport project. They will examine the stakeholder networks formed online and/or revealed online through discourses of progress or preservation.