An ‘at home’ study abroad experience

Julie Davies, Pamela Decker, and Diane-Gabrielle Tremblay discuss how the world comes to iaelyon School of Management for an international week every January.

As Edeltraud Hanappi-Egger noted in January’s Global Focus, internationalisation and the mindset of internationality are key for business school accreditations and rankings and valuable for individual students.

Yet the pendulum has swung towards anti-globalisation in a Trump era. In this article, we reflect on the multiple benefits of organising an annual international week on campus as a solution to reaching students for whom a study abroad experience is not an option.

Recreating studying abroad while staying put Nitin Nohria, Dean at Harvard Business School, has invested significantly this decade in requiring MBA students at the end of the spring term to participate in its FIELD (Field Immersion Experiences for Leadership Development) Global Immersion Programme (FGI). Student teams are sent into global markets for a week to develop a new product or service concept for global partner organisations. The FGI method is intended to complement Harvard’s signature case method.

Clearly, though, few business schools can afford this level of investment. Indeed, not all business school students have the financial wherewithal, inclination, or personal circumstances to enable them to study abroad.

So, while some students relish study abroad opportunities and add multiple international internships to their CVs, others have little or nothing to illustrate the international mindset that business school accreditations and many employers require.

Beyond evidence amassed in business schools to showcase international orientations such as overseas faculty members, visiting faculty, international partnerships and cross-country research projects, how can business school leaders address the blind spots of those students at risk of graduating without exposure to any international study / work experience?

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