SOM stresses global studies

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Photo by Alexandra Schmeling.

After wrapping up its third Global Network Week of the year last week, the School of Management is looking to bring more global initiatives into the MBA classroom.

Starting with the MBA class entering in the fall of 2014, the SOM students will have to fulfill a Global Studies Requirement by the time they graduate. The implementation of this new requirement, which will replace the current International Experience Requirement, was inspired by the progress of the Global Network — an international network of schools founded in 2012 by SOM Dean Edward Snyder. To fulfill the GSR, students can take one of several specifically designated courses, participate in a Global Network Week or in an international exchange with one of the schools in the network.

The SOM Dean Anjani Jain said the new requirement is an expansion of the IE requirement, instituted in 2006, which compelled students to take one of several courses that culminated in a faculty led trip abroad. While the IE requirement added a global dimension to the SOM curriculum, Jain said the GSR will expand that focus while providing more flexibility and opportunities for students.

“The broadening of the curriculum’s IE requirement to the Global Studies Requirement is a recognition by faculty of this expanded opportunity set,” Jain said. “It is intended both to give students greater choice in pursuing global studies and to spur innovation in content and pedagogy with respect to the global dimension of management.”

SOM Associate Dean David Bach said the IE requirement was already an important step in developing the school’s mission, and it was implemented at a time when the best way for students to obtain global experience was for faculty to take them on trips. He said that the GSR reflects the fact that SOM can now rely on the global network to achieve the same ends through a variety of means. He cited traveling to the partner schools for a week or interacting with students across the globe through an online course as examples of ways students can fulfill the GSR.

SOM professor Fiona Scott Morton, who co-taught one of this year’s Global Network online courses with Snyder, said students will be able to choose how to fulfill the requirement according to their individual interests and backgrounds. For example, foreign students might prefer to stay in the U.S. and take a Global Network online course instead of going abroad, and vice versa, she said.

“If I were a student from China, I might feel that my learning about another culture was satisfied by my being in the US,” she said. “While if I were an American from Idaho who went to school in Colorado, I might feel differently.”

Vishal Singh SOM ’14 said he participated in a Global Network Week, during which students from several of the Global Network schools switch places and take classes in the main area of expertise of the school they visit with students from across the globe. This spring the week took place at University College Dublin in Ireland. Singh said he had a meaningful experience, during which he was able to take advantage of UCD’s expertise in digital marketing and participate in a series of company visits.

Gerardo Molina SOM ’14 said Global Network Week opens students’ minds to other cultures and perspectives, and allows for many networking opportunities within a short time frame.

While Singh said he would recommend the Global Network Week to his fellow students, he added that going abroad may not be the best option for some students because of the difficulties of travel and obtaining a visa.

Regardless of the way students choose to fulfill the GSR, Scott Morton said it is very important for the SOM students to learn how to operate in a global environment.

Likewise, SOM professor Nathan Novemsky said that the GSR is consistent with the school’s mission of training managers because management is a global enterprise.

“Management [operates] differently in different places,” he said. “To operate globally, you need to understand a lot of that nuance.”

Stephen Salinas SOM ’14 said replacing the IE with the GSR was a logical move for the SOM. Having a wider choice will encourage students who would not otherwise go abroad to travel, he said, adding that going on the trip for his IE requirement was his favorite experience at the SOM.

Jain said he expects many students will go beyond the requirement and pursue more than one option.

In the future, SOM may add new global opportunities and options for GSR, Bach said.

“Our goal is to become the most global US business school,” he said. “Our job will be working with the SOM faculty and members of the Global Network to make as many exciting opportunities for global engagement available to our students as possible.”

The first Global Network Week was held in spring 2013.

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