Whitman in Asia: Associate Dean’s Travels Cultivate Global Experiences for Students
Where in the world is Eunkyu Lee? That was the question in January, as Lee, the associate dean for global initiatives and professor of marketing at Syracuse University's Martin J. Whitman School of Management, toured a number of cities throughout Asia, including Hong Kong, Singapore, Ho Chi Minh and Hanoi. It wasn’t a vacation, however. It was an opportunity for Lee to explore partnerships that will allow greater global learning for Whitman students in some of the key business centers and most booming economies in the world.
The trip began as Lee accompanied 71 students from MBA@Syracuse, Whitman’s online MBA program, to a weekend-long residency in Hong Kong. Twenty-seven students opted for an extended four-day stay that included company visits in Hong Kong and Shenzhen, China. The students not only had the chance to visit two of the most dynamic business hubs in Asia but also had the opportunity to absorb the diversity of the business culture, cutting-edge innovations and the interplay of politics, history, culture and economic forces in the region’s business environment.
During the trip, Lee had the chance to visit universities, businesses and other organizations across Asia. His goal was to develop more global learning opportunities for Whitman students, while also promoting the Whitman School to Asian students looking to study in the United States through partnerships with Asian universities and organizations. This effort not only aligns with Whitman objectives but also with the Syracuse University Strategic Plan, which emphasizes student experience, internationalization and innovation.
“Asia has dynamic growth and development,” said Lee. “It’s incredibly diverse and culturally rich with its tremendous history and is very interesting learning ground for any business student.”
While the university does offer SU Study Abroad opportunities in places like Hong Kong, Whitman’s goals are to ﬁnd more direct partnerships that will provide a greater variety of both short- and long-term learning opportunities in Asia. While most Whitman students, particularly at the graduate level, understand the importance of learning about Asian business, Lee still sees the need to generate more interest among students and is committed to providing more opportunities.
“Bringing more globalized experiential opportunities to our students is critical to their education at the Whitman School. The whole world is not going to follow the Western norm. Things are changing. We need to appreciate the complexity, power balance and major trends in global business now more than ever before.” - Eunkyu Lee
Lee believes trips like this will “have a positive impact on the Whitman brand, which will, in the long run, help student recruitment and placement.” It will also help develop stronger networks among Whitman alumni living and working in Asia, providing a way for them to contribute to and beneﬁt from the success of Whitman.
Most of the people and places Lee visited were receptive to the prospect of new partnerships that would welcome Whitman students to Asia and open the door to opportunities for Asian business students and executives to come to the United States through the Whitman School.
“Both American and Asian students often have some preconceived notions about Asia and the U.S., respectively,” said Lee. “Opportunities like we’re pursuing help them overcome stereotypes and get out of their comfort zones, enhancing their abilities to collaborate with people from around the world.
“Experiential learning gives our students the opportunity to absorb the styles of various cultures, interpersonal skills, different views, as well as cultural, regulatory and environmental factors that might be different from where they come from but are essential to the global business community,” he added.
Oliva Smith-Keneipp ’19 MBA was a part of the group of MBA@Syracuse students who traveled to Asia in January.
“The trip provided a tremendous opportunity to understand the global impact that China is not only having on the United States but also the impact it’s having on the world,” she said. “This type of learning allowed me to connect theoretical topics with real-world situations. It gave me the ability to understand the impact that global markets can have on U.S.-based businesses. Also, with China/U.S. relations reaching a bit of an impasse, I wanted to understand the conversation around this topic outside of America. This trip gave me a broader global experience that will be critical to my professional success in the future, especially as the world becomes even more connected.”
“Bringing more globalized experiential opportunities to our students is critical to their education at the Whitman School,” said Lee.
Lee intends to continue networking with colleagues and alumni throughout Asia, as well as new and established partnerships, in the hopes of creating formal agreements and concrete programs for short-term experiential learning, semester-long student exchanges and alumni networking. He is excited about the new global learning courses and programs being developed and launched and hopes the Whitman School will soon be able to offer trips like the one to Hong Kong to full-time MBA students as well. The goal, according to Lee, is to increase student participation in global learning opportunities by 25 percent over the next three years. Faculty members will beneﬁt, too, from more opportunities for teaching and research in Asia and other parts of the world.
“Bringing more globalized experiential opportunities to our students is critical to their education at the Whitman School,” said Lee. “The whole world is not going to follow the Western norm. Things are changing. We need to appreciate the complexity, power balance and major trends in global business now more than ever before.”
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