Global Studies, Global View

Published on December 15, 2007

Global Studies Brings World Closer To Bauer

China's worldwide ascent is one topic of Bauer's Global Studies.

The University of Houston has long been known as a global hub, a place where you may hear a dozen different languages spoken in a single classroom as students from more than 130 countries prepare themselves for careers. But the C. T. Bauer College of Business Global Studies Program is a relatively new way of ensuring that all Bauer students are grounded in international business practices through a combination of classes, lectures, film series and mentoring programs.

Providing students with a solid foundation in global history, economics and politics, whether their primary focus is accounting, finance or any of the other skill-oriented degree field offered at Bauer, the Global Studies Program also welcomes non-business students seeking a Global Business Minor. Both programs will benefit from a $25,000 Faculty Development Grant awarded this past spring, says Tyler Priest, Professor and Director of Global Studies.

The Global Studies Sequence was one of the first at UH to be taught in a hybrid format that combines in-class lectures with online participation, Priest says. The grant will enable more interactive ways for students to participate, such as the creation of a Global Village Wikipedia, as well as a database on the political, economic and historical aspects of each nation’s involvement in the process of globalization that will be made available to K-12 teachers, business, media and anyone else interested in global issues.

Priest, a specialist in the history of U.S. foreign relations and modern business, says rapid growth of the program is a given — local is now global.

“People are seeing their career path is in the global economy,” Priest says. While Bauer students still need to learn a skill-set in a particular area such as accounting, entrepreneurship, finance, management, management information systems, marketing, or operations management, they also need to enter the job market well-prepared for today’s global marketplace.

And through the program, non-business majors find a conduit for pursuing their passion while ensuring marketability once they graduate. (The rapidly growing Global Business Minor program will be housed in Cemo Hall, Bauer’s new hub for business students that is slated for construction).

In addition to a required course in International Business, the Global Studies sequence (three courses) is required of business students. With the addition of classes, both business and non-business majors can earn a minor in International Area Studies.

For students like Nigerian-born Ikenna Ohalete, the classes expand and deepen an already global outlook. Ohalete, for instance, took it upon himself to read biographies of many American leaders when he first came to the U.S. in 2003. Now a U.S. citizen, Ohalete credits his understanding of America’s leaders – from U.S. presidents to industry titans – with allowing him to understand and succeed in American society. As an enlistee in the U.S. Marine Corps, Ohalete was impressed by the spirit of service he observed in the military sector. After deployments in Japan, he left the service with a desire to give back to the civilian world. His time in the Global Studies program, he says, has only broadened his perspective as he pursues majors in Accounting and Finance and a minor in Management Information Systems (MIS). “It makes you well-rounded,” he says.

Many American-born students, though, don’t enter the Global Studies Program with as much firsthand knowledge of business culture in other parts of the world. And the presence and interaction with students like Ohalete helps broaden their horizons, in addition to making them more sought after job candidates.

Even prior to the technology innovations made possible by the Faculty Development Grant, online discussions among Global Studies students have tended to be dynamic and animated, frequently with first-hand views about history or current events dominating the discussion, Priest says.

A discussion about the role of China in a modern global economy jumps out of the theoretical realm and is enhanced, for instance, when students whose families have lived and worked there for generations contribute opinions.

The UH partnership with the World Affairs Council of Houston and other organizations also adds a layer of global understanding to academic studies. Students are encouraged to attend WAC lectures and receptions for world leaders like George Ayittey and Vicente Fox, both of whom spoke earlier this year. Ohalete recently earned a scholarship to the Houston World Oil Conference, where energy traders, oil business people, journalists and others convened to talk about peak oil and difficulties in extracting it.

Bauer partnerships with area high schools are yet another way students prepare to interact in a global economy. UH students hone their communication skills as they work with younger students and plant a seed in the greater Houston community for the next generation of international business students. Bauer has a strong relationship with the KIPP Academy, a college prep program for low-income students. It has recently teamed up with Klein Forest High School’s International Business Academy, says Frank Kelley, Director of Undergraduate Business Programs.

All of these layers enhance the classes taught by Priest, who teaches History; Roxandra Prodan, who teaches the Economics of Globalization; and Long Le, UH’s Director of International Initiatives, teacher of Politics of Globalization. Combined with a thriving Study Abroad program and an international film series that is likely to grow, Priest says, the multi-dimensional approach to education offers Global Studies students like Ohalete a number of options when it comes to amplifying their international knowledge base.

The Global Studies Program provides him with the broad-based knowledge necessary to avoid being a one-dimensional leader and to realize a future defined by more than his bank account, he says. “I like the government sector. I want to be of service and make a contribution to society.”

By Julie Bonnin

Posted Under: Recognition

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