Course work Teaching approaches can vary

International business classes are becoming a norm in higher ed

A challenge has been issued in the academic world: How do you incorporate international business into your curriculum?

The solution to that exists in a state of tension for Bernard O’Rourke, associate dean of the business division at Caldwell University, among others.

“It’s becoming more and more important (to focus on international business) because of the way the world is going,” he said. “But there are two schools of thought: Either you expand the regular curriculum, or you deal with it as a completely separate area.”

O’Rourke is reassessing his answer to that conflict on nearly a daily basis. He said students tend to favor the former direction, in that they’re not studying international business as a pure major at any more of an increased rate than before, but are folding it into their overall business studies.

Yet Caldwell has introduced a separate global business concentration in its MBA program, which bolsters the standard 30-credit core of coursework with international travel and learning opportunities. So that falls more in line with O’Rourke’s first aforementioned school of thought.

Either way, it is essential business students learn this.

“We have to expose our students to global business, because even in our own society we’re becoming so multicultural,” he said. “So there’s two prongs here: You can teach international business and intercultural American business at the same time.”

Centenary College is another Garden State higher education institution that has sought different ways to integrate international business into its curriculum.

Dana Benbow, an international business professor at the Hackettstown-based school, described Centenary’s required capstone course, which is one of the more interesting approaches to the subject:

“It’s a simulation, during which we take the class and split them up into (fictional) companies. It’s supposed to be an international setting. So they decide where they’re going to put their manufacturing plant, where they will sell their product and to what population.”

Through that, these students are wrestling with some of the same fundamental issues that Benbow is familiar with, having spent 25 years conducting global business in the insurance industry.

Benbow hopes that students come out of it with an appreciation of the connections between various business disciplines, as well as the intricacies of the world stage.

Brett Johnson

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