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May 2019

Illustration of two heads with watercolor design

Illustration of two heads with watercolor design

New Multi-Disciplinary Course Improves Communications Among Silicon Valley Professionals

A new multi-disciplinary course helps engineers, businesspeople, and lawyers communicate with one another.

SANTA CLARA, Calif., May 16, 2019 – This year, Santa Clara University launched an innovative new multi-disciplinary course called “How Engineers, Businesspeople, and Lawyers Communicate with Each Other.” The course enriches Santa Clara University’s capacity to prepare the next generation of Silicon Valley professional leaders.

“Santa Clara University excels at helping students develop the full range of professional skills and expertise,” said Eric Goldman, co-director of the High Tech Law Institute and co-supervisor of the Privacy Law Certificate at Santa Clara University School of Law. “This course, in particular, helps students understand the perspectives of their colleagues in tech, business, and law and be understood in return—and that skill will be highly prized by Silicon Valley employers.”

The course, first offered in Winter quarter 2019, enrolled students from Santa Clara University’s law, graduate business, and graduate engineering schools. Students were immersed into multi-disciplinary team-based simulations to tackle data privacy and cybersecurity challenges that mirror real world issues. Through these cross-disciplinary interactions, students learned how to speak each other’s languages, understand and empathize with each other’s points of view, and apply effective collaboration, risk, and technology management techniques.

The course syllabus can be obtained online.

The course was co-taught by three veteran Silicon Valley industry professionals with extensive experience in their respective fields of technology, law, and business. About the instructors:

Jeff Klaben is a chief information security officer and executive advisor with SRI International, a nonprofit, independent research and innovation center. He co-authored “The Computer Incident Response Planning Handbook.”
Jennifer Stefanski is product counsel at SurveyMonkey, counseling product and technology teams regarding consumer protection, privacy, and regulatory matters.
Sudha Subramanian is director of product management at PayPal, leading the PayPal Credit product for merchants and partners.

“Effective cybersecurity and data privacy programs depend upon product engineering, legal, and business leaders collaborating more effectively than their advanced, persistent adversaries,” said Klaben. “To tackle these challenges, a multi-disciplinary approach is vital. My co-teachers and I distilled some of our hard fought experience into a course to prepare our next generation of leaders to navigate across multiple domains.”

Comments from two students who took the course:

“I'm a grad student who has been working in industry for the past 15 years. The cross-discipline approach used by the course mirrors my work experience like no other course I've ever taken,” said David Marshall, a first-year graduate student in the Engineering Management and Leadership program.

“I enjoyed the exposure and integration of multiple disciplines, coming together and working as a team,” said Theresa Nguyen, a third-year law student. “Learning about the different schools of thought gave me a better understanding of each discipline to become a more effective communicator as I move forward into the working world.”

About Santa Clara University
Founded in 1851, Santa Clara University sits in the heart of Silicon Valley—the world’s most innovative and entrepreneurial region. The University’s stunningly landscaped 106-acre campus is home to the historic Mission Santa Clara de Asís. Ranked the No. 1 regional university in the West by U.S. News & World Report, SCU has among the best four-year graduation rates in the nation and is rated by PayScale in the top 1 percent of universities with the highest-paid graduates. SCU has produced elite levels of Fulbright Scholars as well as four Rhodes Scholars. With undergraduate programs in arts and sciences, business, and engineering, and graduate programs in six disciplines, the curriculum blends high-tech innovation with social consciousness grounded in the tradition of Jesuit, Catholic education. For more information see

Media Contact
Deborah Lohse | SCU Media Communications | | 408-554-5121

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