Hawks learn business abroadFebruary 17, 2012

Fredrick Grossman has traveled the globe. The Omaha native has studied abroad in Peru and Guatemala and has lived in Japan, but, now in his senior year, there was one more trip he had to make.

When the opportunity came for Grossman to study business at IQS, a century-old Jesuit university in Spain, a country that has recently made the headlines because of its financial instability, he knew he had to go.

“It was a very eye-opening experience,” Grossman said. “You see our point of view from the American economy, but when you are actually there in that economy, it’s completely different. Our instructors gave us a no-nonsense type attitude about their country’s finances.”

For the last three years, faculty and staff from Rockhurst University’s Helzberg School of Management have been making the trek to Barcelona as part of an educational and cultural immersion program between the fall and spring semesters.

In January, 30 Rockhurst students, both graduate and undergraduate, crossed the Atlantic Ocean to see how business was conducted internationally.

“I think they got a great view of both a university in Spain and the uniqueness of European business,” said Myles Gartland, Ph.D., associate professor of economics. “They were able to ask a lot of pointed questions about people and things that are current issues. Plus, these students had the opportunity to experience the cultural aspects of one of the greatest cities in the world.”

The objectives of the two-and-a-half week course included examining how firms dealt with business ethics and corporate responsibility issues in Spain, how to think critically about marketing differences between Spain and the United States and examining the role of logistics in the globalization of production and markets.

Turner White, visiting assistant professor of management, said there were three components designed into the course’s curriculum: the intellectual, the cultural and the experiential.

“Many of our students have never traveled outside of the U.S.,” White said. “Probably the greatest way to figure out who you are is to be in an environment where you are not like the other people. I think the transformative nature of that experience is what I observe as being the most significant. They don’t even realize they are going through a transformation until they get back home and they see the world differently.”

While the structured curriculum and schedule focused on the business world, it did allow for personal and spiritual growth.

On the agenda for the trip was a stop at Montserrat where St. Ignatius of Loyola gave up his life as a soldier in front of the Black Madonna to start his journey of founding the Society of Jesus.

“The significance of being able to hear that story from the place where it happened is pretty unbelievable,” Grossman said.

In all, 78 students have taken the course and completed the IQS program, while a handful of IQS students have come to Rockhurst. White says with every trip, the program gets better and better. He sees in the next few years the possibility of expanding the winter program to other countries and further enhancing the relationship between IQS and Rockhurst by possibly having more Spanish students or faculty come to the University.

For now, White and Gartland are pleased with the program’s success. In fact, two Rockhurst alumni are currently enrolled at IQS to achieve graduate and post graduate business degrees in Barcelona after having taken the course.

“I think that’s the greatest testimony in the world for how transformative the nature of this trip was,” White said. “Here you have students so committed to this that they take whatever language skills they have, work on them to perfect them and then begin studying business in a setting like IQS.”

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