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A competitive edge in global diversity

Students in Lehigh’s College of Business and Economics, says Paul R. Brown, the college’s dean, learn the importance of globalization and diversity in the required Introduction to Business course.

The global economy, says Paul R. Brown, dean of the College of Business and Economics (CBE), provides today’s undergraduate students with a familiar learning laboratory.

Instead of thinking globally or locally, students think in terms of both. A shirt, they already know, might be made in Vietnam or the Dominican Republic, a computer in the United States, and a car in Europe or Japan.

This open mindset puts students in a unique position to learn the importance of a global perspective and the far-reaching ramifications of business decisions.

In its 2010 Strategic Plan, the CBE reaffirmed the critical need for the next generation of business leaders to be educated in globalization and diversity.

“The logical action to take, to ensure that our graduates are prepared to successfully navigate the global economy, was to review our curriculum and adjust it accordingly,” says Brown.

“A strong grounding in the core disciplines—the foundation of a Lehigh business education—must be applied to the current business environment and its practices. An intense awareness of everything ‘global’ and ‘diverse’ is a hallmark of 21st-century business.”

Students in the CBE learn the importance of globalization and diversity from the start, says Brown, in the college’s Introduction to Business course, which is required of all first-year undergraduate students.

The semester-long course is directed by Anne Anderson, associate professor of finance and the Joseph R. Perella and Amy M. Perella Chair, who invites guest speakers to discuss the global business environment and the diverse needs of the clients and stakeholders who are involved in everyday business operations.

“It is critical that our students start with an overview that opens their vision to the global picture,” says Anderson. “What better way to accomplish this than to analyze many diverse firms and to discuss businesses in the context of current events?”

Introduction to Business supplements a new university requirement that every undergraduate student take one global course and one diversity course prior to graduating. The Class of 2012 is the first graduating class to fulfill this requirement.

“This CBE senior class engaged in more global and diversity-related education than their counterparts in previous classes,” says CBE Associate Dean Katrina Zalatan.

CBE students will benefit from a recent curriculum review by the College of Arts and Sciences, which identified more than 300 global and diversity-related courses in 18 departments and programs.

“Lehigh offers CBE students a wonderfully rich portfolio of course options to understand and prepare for global challenges,” says Zalatan. “Courses that span the boundaries of different disciplines in business and the arts and sciences give CBE students the opportunity for deeper insight and a competitive edge.”

Students can also develop a deeper global perspective by taking part in study-abroad, and summer and winter faculty-led international programs. The CBE’s Martindale Student Associates and Iacocca International Internship programs give students other options for international experiences.

In addition, the Office of International Affairs has established the Lehigh International Portfolio to support campus-wide globalization efforts. CBE faculty and administrators work closely with the OIA to assess and identify new international partnerships and programs for students.

“The strength of the Lehigh business degree has always been reflected in the excellent preparation of our graduates and their subsequent success in the workplace,” says Brown. “We are confident that our efforts to broaden students’ perspectives on global and diversity issues will instill a sensitivity to the challenges associated with the global workplace.”

 

Story by Kathy Mattare

Posted on Thursday, August 30, 2012

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