As the leader in international immersion programs, Worldstrides Capstone programs is constantly monitoring industry trends to provide meaningful travel opportunities for our client universities. Below are some of the developing trends as we look ahead to 2011:
Fully Integrated Courses
Increasingly, universities are embedding the international trip as a part of semester-long courses. For example, a course on innovation meets regularly throughout the semester and includes a 12-day trip to one or more world innovation centers, such as Tel Aviv, Palo Alto, or Bangalore. Students have the opportunity to apply the fundamentals and cases studied while on their trip. Upon their return, they have time to reflect and apply the perspective gained through the remaining classes on campus.
Groups traveling with 50 or more students are able to serve a range of learning needs by engaging in functional or industry treks. These global travel programs generally begin with one to two days of economic and industry study within the country. This includes visiting trade associations, insurance companies, central banks, and law firms to explore the questions surrounding the lending environment and capital markets, demographic and market profile, regulatory environment, and company formation. This overview is then followed by functional or industry-specific company visits corresponding to the program’s concentrations – such as finance, marketing, general management, or information technology. This format enables students to deepen their understanding of global issues and approaches corresponding to their degree concentration.
In a study published in the Journal of Teaching in International Business, “Investigating Graduate Business Students’ Perceptions of the Educational Value Provided by an International Travel Course Experience,” researchers found that MBA students gained greatest value in experiencing a culture more different from their own. The research found that Asia, Africa, and the Middle East ranked well above Europe or Latin America for educational value and long-term learning outcomes. Our 2010 travel programs represented the findings in this research, with nearly half of our business programs visiting Asia.
Specialized programs based on a theme of study are growing in popularity as universities seek to differentiate the learning goals from the destination of study. This is particularly true for programs in Europe or Asia, where the university may offer multiple courses to the same location. Building a thematic concept around the course provides clear differentiation to the students enrolling. For example, a university may have one business program in China focused on retail management—from supply chain and marketing to placement within stores—as well as a second program focused on banking and currency markets from the perspective of one of the world’s greatest net-lenders.
Recent press in both the Wall Street Journal and the Harvard Business School Alumni Bulletin points to a trend in global programs of integrating team-based projects in the program, something we have witnessed ourselves. There are limitless possibilities that project work experiences can bring to the student individually and to the group as a whole. We have found that mixing group business visits with one to two days of small group project work enables the program to have a common set of experiences while allowing students to engage in real-world operations with a local company. Sharing the results of these practical business experiences allow students to learn firsthand about the opportunities and challenges of working in a foreign country.
About the University Division of WorldStrides
The University Division of WorldStrides is the nation’s premier organization providing travel and academic services for global university programs for more than half of the Department of Education’s designated Centers for International Business Education and Research, as well as over half of the top 30 MBA programs as ranked by BusinessWeek magazine. Headquartered in Charlottesville, VA, with field offices around the country, the University Division of WorldStrides annually creates distinct programs to more than 60 countries around the globe. The company prides itself on providing unmatched levels of financial, legal, and risk management to its client schools.