About two-thirds of Syracuse University’s Martin J. Whitman School of Management undergraduate students gain significant study abroad experience during their four years, making the School one of the most globalized institutions in comparison to other business schools. This is not just the case for the undergraduate student body. Whitman has a long history of offering immersive programs for both on-campus and online students pursuing their M.S. or MBA in places like Dubai, London, Dublin, Seoul, Hong Kong and Panama City. Despite a decreased number of students studying abroad and some program cancellations due to the current pandemic, global learning remains an integral part of educational experience at Whitman.
Though both levels of students have a range of opportunities when it comes to global experiences, undergraduate students are more likely to spend a longer period abroad, typically an entire semester or summer during their junior year, while graduate programs focus more on short-term opportunities, ranging from a weekend to a full week based on availability and distance. However, this may soon change, as Whitman continues to develop more short-term programs available to undergraduates, as well.
“Although we are very satisfied with that two-thirds number, we would like to provide additional global business learning opportunities for our students, especially those undergraduate students who cannot afford to take a whole semester off for various reasons,” explains Eunkyu Lee, professor of marketing and associate dean for global initiatives. “Still, I think that gaining a real, hands-on immersive global experience is very important for business education.”
While many factors contribute to how Whitman selects times and places for these short-term opportunities, taking advantage of current events around the world has become an important part of planning these programs. For example, though the trip couldn’t take place due to COVID-19-related challenges, the School did have plans in place for a program two months before the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics.
“It was a great opportunity to talk about the global business of sports, and also combine that with other topics like e-sports, which is technologically and culturally very timely,” says Lee. “So, we are trying to seize those kinds of opportunities to focus on timely and trending business topics, and I think the short-term immersion programs are just a perfect way of helping our students gain those special learning opportunities.”
In addition to the primary goal of helping students gain global experience, Whitman also seeks to provide students with opportunities in a range of destinations, including countries that don’t currently have an Syracuse Abroad center. “We are trying to balance the geographical locations of our global learning programs because, as of now, most of Syracuse Abroad’s centers are located in Europe,” Lee explains. “So, we are trying to provide more opportunities in the regions or countries where we don’t have centers so that students will have a variety of different learning opportunities, both in terms of geographical location and stages of economic development.”
New Kenya Global Experience
One such project is being spearheaded by Elizabeth Wimer, Waverly house mentor and assistant teaching professor of entrepreneurship. The Kenya Immersion Experience and is on track to take place this May. The program is linked to SOM 354 (Managing in a Global Setting), a required course for all Whitman students that focuses on business management in a globalized world.
“During the spring term of SOM 354, all students in the three sections I lead will engage in a semester-long project with three key stakeholders in Nairobi, Kenya: a local business, local entrepreneurs and a local school,” Wimer explains. “Throughout the semester, the entire class will engage each of the stakeholders for interaction, discussion and project work. Upon conclusion of the semester, a select number of students will travel on an instructor-led experience to collaborate with the stakeholders in person.”
Wimer, who will go with students to Kenya in May, believes that the global experience is an exciting opportunity for all parties involved. “I’m passionate about students using their education not only for their individual pursuits but also for the benefit of the global community, and this trip is a place for students to experience that connection,” she says.
Though other plans are still subject to change based on fluctuating travel restrictions, Whitman has several other projects in the works, as well, including short-term programs that will take students to new destinations like Japan, South Korea, Sweden and other parts of the world.
Learn more about Whitman Across the Globe.