Thursday, February 9, 2006
SBA prepares students for international business
By Rebecca Wyatt, OU Web Writer
Through a grant from the U.S. Department of Education, Oakland University’s School of Business Administration is adapting to changes in global business by strengthening its international offerings at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Along with this comes study abroad arrangements, international internships, and the opportunity for faculty to gain international experiences and learn more about global business through faculty exchanges with universities in other countries.
“The purpose of this grant is to popularize international business education,” said Ravi Parameswaran, professor of marketing and management information systems, who, along with Nivedita Mukherji, associate professor of economics, is coordinating the program. “We want to make students more aware of the international aspects of their careers.”
The two-year grant calls for OU to develop the internationalization of the SBA curriculum through a variety of avenues, including student and faculty exchanges and development, strengthening ties to local and international businesses, and an enhanced curriculum and information seminars for faculty development.
The first group of 12 students, four faculty members and three business people from the area will travel on a study abroad trip and trade mission to India Feb. 24-March 11. They will participate in industry visits and educational sessions during the 15-day trip. The group will visit Mumbai, the financial capital of India; Delhi, the political capital of India; Pune, the automotive hub and “Detroit” of India; Agra, the home of the Taj Mahal; and Jaipur, the princely city also known as the “Pink City.”
During spring and summer sessions, faculty and students from the sister school, Symbiosis Institute of International Business in India, will come to OU to learn and explore American businesses and culture.
Next year, the exchange will involve going to Korea or a similar country and, if there is enough participation, it may involve a location in Europe as well.
“In the second year, the grant allows us to explore expanding beyond India and Korea into maybe Germany and France,” Parameswaran said.
Undergraduate and graduate students also will have the opportunity to work with companies for internships in India during the first year and possibly Korea during the second year. The grant will cover travel expenses for two students each year.
While many opportunities are available to visit overseas business, many changes will be taking place at OU as well.
Newly formed graduate assistantships are available for master’s degree candidates to work on international business topics. The grant also provides for curriculum enhancements that will add international business courses to the graduate area and test the feasibility of an international business undergraduate program.
Faculty development through workshops and seminars will provide more information on international business. A Faculty Learning Committee has been established for SBA and interested OU faculty to share ideas and resources about topics that interest them. SBA faculty also will have the opportunity to teach abroad at sister universities.
OU already has established a Center for International Business Initiatives as part of the grant, which will continue to define and strengthen the international education of OU business students and help the local business community in their international business initiatives.
Through the grant and the programs, OU has been able to strengthen ties and develop relationships with those in Oakland County and around the globe. The university has teamed up with small- to medium-sized businesses that are trying to develop an international aspect. Currently, OU is working with two auto-related businesses from the metro Detroit area. OU also has established a relationship with Automation Alley and the U.S. Export Assistance Center of the U.S. Commercial Service in Pontiac.
While OU previously had a relationship with the sister school in India, that relationship is growing and developing. Margaret Pigott, director of OU’s Center for International Education, will be working and visiting with other schools in India during the upcoming study abroad trip to develop ties with Indian institutions of higher education and attract Indian students to study at OU.
SBA also plans to establish relationships with institutions and businesses in Korea for next year’s program.
Parameswaran said a lot of work has gone into implementing the plan within the grant and many people on and off campus have worked to support it and get it off the ground including former OU professor Deepak Sethi, who initiated the grant, and Richard Corson, director of the U.S. Export Assistance Center of the U.S. Commercial Service.
“We are also thankful to Virinder Moudgil (vice president of academic affairs and provost) and the Provost’s Office for their strong encouragement and supplemental grant funds for the study abroad program,” Parameswaran said. “Similarly, we are thankful to the SBA Dean, Jonathan Silberman, who suggested and supported the faculty involvement in this endeavor.”
The university would like to apply for the grant again next year to fund more international business enhancements and opportunities, but it is contingent on the participation and success of this program, Mukherji said.
Students interested in international business internships this summer should contact Parameswaran at (248) 370-3299 for more information. Faculty who wish to participate in the Faculty Learning Committee or learn more about the opportunities available to them should contact Mukherji at (248) 370-4087.