Academic journal article Academy of Educational Leadership Journal

A Model for Designing Faculty-Led Study Abroad Programs in the Business Curriculum

Academic journal article Academy of Educational Leadership Journal

A Model for Designing Faculty-Led Study Abroad Programs in the Business Curriculum

Article excerpt

INTRODUCTION

Characteristic of the 21st Century has been the phenomenon of a smaller and flatter world (Friedman, 2005). Accordingly, new technologies continue to make the world smaller such that cultural, political, and business transactions across different time zones and countries are commonplace. In the business school curriculum, this transformation creates new imperatives for design of our curricula and our pedagogical outlook. Many schools of business have recognized this change and have accordingly added courses which emphasizing the international and global component of business. While will continue to rely on our classrooms to deliver this content, students may have the best opportunities to appreciate the global nature of business by developing first-hand experiences outside of their own culture and context. Moreover, while Massively Online Open Courses and other Internet-borne innovations bring students and curriculum closer together and more accessible, the richness, immediacy, and personalization of these conduits are far from replacing the impact of first-hand and in-person experiences. This is particularly true when the visceral impact of global business is the aim of our curriculum design.

One way to achieve a global perspective in business curriculum is study abroad programs which encourage students to experience business and life in other countries. Traveling to other countries not only gives students a chance to see how businesses operate differently, but also exposes them to other beliefs, value structures, and attitudes. Recognizing and reconciling with these differences provides a foundation for a business student to truly develop a global perspective in their education. While the face validity of extending business education with a study abroad program is fairly apparent, the form and method of delivery for these experiences varies significantly. Therefore, it is difficult to recommend a best practice for study abroad programs designed to increase global awareness for business students. These opportunities hinge significantly on the mission, educational goals, and overall disposition of the institution. As such, it is important to disclose that this paper is written from the perspective of a small regional institution in North America, such that our experiences may not compare to schools otherwise situated.

In this paper, we compare strategies and alternatives which can be used to develop a study abroad program. We stress the importance of designing a study abroad program which is tied to the mission, goals, and objectives of the college. Also, we discuss the external validation for such programs from the perspective of accreditation bodies, such as AACSB. For instance, a study abroad program which anchors students' experiences within the normal college-wide curriculum are preferential. In order for a viable study abroad program to develop and flourish, it is also necessary for the approach to be consistent with the tendencies, intentions, and desires of the faculty. Thus, when coupled with accreditation efforts, faculty interest and mission alignment are most likely to be synchronized. In reflection of our own experiences, we present a model for the design of study abroad programs with all of these considerations in mind. This framework stresses balancing requisite elements such as willingness, need, opportunity, ability, relevance, and rigor required for an optimal and successful study abroad program.

The paper proceeds as follows: First we provide an account of our own background and experiences in developing a study abroad program. We speak to opportunities and alternatives available for the study abroad program. We analyze our own past study abroad programs to reflect on the design decisions and learning opportunities from those offerings. These experiences have provided a rich context from which we can further illustrate a key conundrum and challenge for study abroad program design: that is the balance between rigor and relevance. …

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