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05-21-2008

Clarkson University Business Students Expand Education Beyond U.S. Borders

Students at Clarkson University's School of Business will get a close-up look at the global economy in action, thanks to a new global study requirement implemented this past year.

Our faculty instituted our global study program as a required component of our curriculum in response to the reality of today's global marketplace, says Michael E. Wasserman, associate dean for undergraduate programs. "Industry leaders need graduates entering the workforce to work effectively with colleagues, suppliers, and customers from all corners of the world."

In meeting this requirement, undergraduate students have the option of participating in the International Study Abroad/Exchange Program through one of Clarkson's partner institutions. These include City University of Hong Kong, Steyr University in Austria, and the National University of Singapore. Through these partner universities, students spend a semester abroad or complete a short-term program in the summer.

Students can also meet the requirement by participating in a faculty-led immersion experience. The immersion experience consists of a two-to-three week summer trip overseas. Students tour factories, businesses, and government agencies, and visit historical and cultural sites as well. Prior to the trip, students engage in pre-departure training that focuses on culture, language, history, economics and etiquette.

The real benefit, explains Wasserman, is the knowledge students gain by viewing the global economy from another country's perspective. "Our students gain a broader perspective by learning how business operates in other cultures," he says.

Assistant Professor of Consumer and Organizational Studies Sandra Fisher agrees. Fisher and Wasserman have coordinated and led groups of undergraduate and graduate students on trips abroad, including one in partnership with Schiller International University in Strasbourg, France. "The students were able to learn firsthand how cultural values and priorities affect business practices," Fisher says. "I think it helped many of them to better understand the challenges they will face in the workplace, either working with people from different cultures inside the U.S. or in overseas assignments."

It used to be enough to teach students how to work effectively in teams, says Wasserman. "But today's economy raises the bar; our students now need to work as part of international teams. We need to provide the opportunity for our students to truly be global thinkers and boundary spanners. Our global study program is designed to do just that."

Clarkson University crosses the boundaries of disciplines, nations and cultures in order for discovery, engineering innovation and enterprise to come together. As a result, faculty and graduates grasp the full impact of their calling, direct their research to the world's pressing issues and lead with confidence and distinction. One in seven alumni is already a CEO or other senior executive. Located in Potsdam, N.Y., just outside the six-million-acre Adirondack Park, Clarkson is home to 3,000 students preparing for rewarding careers through 50 rigorous programs of study in engineering, business, arts, science, and health sciences, as well as unparalleled outdoor recreation and life experiences beyond the classroom.

[News directors and editors: For more information, contact Michael P. Griffin, director of News & Digital Content Services, at 315-268-6716 or mgriffin@clarkson.edu.]

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