June 11-24, 2004
Vol. 34, Issue 11
Back Issues
Reunions Weekend 2004
Gilliam’s sense of place
Pay raises
Headlines @ U.Va.
Outstanding employees
Years of service
Doctor remembers Ronald Reagan
Klarman: WWII, not Brown, catalyst for Civil Rights Movement
Learning abroad: Becoming citizens of the world
Heritage Repertory Theatre now in 30th season
Reality TV wants you: Get political with Larry Sabato
Holidays for 2004
Attic find sheds light on life of WWI nurse
Learning from abroad: Becoming citizens of the world
Bath University
Photo by Jane Ford
Since the early 1990s, the University of Bath (above) has hosted McIntire School students, who attend classes at Bath’s School of Management, one of the top five business schools in the United Kingdom.

By Jane Ford

Bath, England — The University encourages students to study abroad because the experience plays an important role in educating American citizens about other cultures in an increasingly global age. Prospective employers also consider global competency, and the ability to look at issues from multiple perspectives and cope with new experiences to be great assets in the people they hire.

The encouragement to study abroad is especially strong at the McIntire School of Commerce, which provides its students with overseas learning opportunities that meet their curriculum requirements and also enable the students to remain on schedule to graduate in four years.
About 10 percent of the Commerce School’s third-year students study abroad each spring at institutions in Bath, England; Copenhagen, Denmark; Paris; and Singapore.

One of the most affordable of these is the University of Bath exchange program, in place since the early 1990s, in which business students from Bath’s School of Management study at U.Va.’s Commerce School in the fall, and U.Va. students study at Bath’s School of Management in the spring. The exchange students pay their regular tuition to their home institutions, plus housing and living expenses, which are comparable between Charlottesville and Bath. The only added expense is the cost of travel to and from England and for independent travel during the term break.

Last spring, U.Va. students Leslie Bowers, Angela Lee, David McBride and James Thomson took four or five classes at Bath’s School of Management, which is among the top five business schools in the United Kingdom. The classes there meet the McIntire Commerce School’s course requirements. The content is similar, but the theory-based lectures differ in numerous ways.

The classes in Bath meet only once a week for about two hours, and the general requirements include a term paper and group project after Easter break, plus a final exam, which counts for 70 percent of most grades. Students are required to keep up with the reading requirements on their own.

At Bath’s School of Management, “there is less [class] participation and interaction,” Bowers said.

The Bath University students who studied at U.Va. in the fall — Jo Douglas, David Hodge, Karl Mahrenholz, Kevin Pratt and Sam Pulsford — were impressed with McIntire’s case-based approach to teaching, which requires students to keep up with assigned readings in preparation for graded class participation, often counting for up to 50 percent of the final grade.

The case-method model encourages class participation and changes the classroom dynamic, Mahrenholz said. “You learn from each other.”
Douglas said, “I was impressed with the confidence and willingness of the [U.Va.] students to talk and put themselves out.”

The U.Va. students said the fast-paced academic culture and need to juggle and meet constant deadlines for their classes at the McIntire School prepared them well for budgeting their time and working efficiently during the semester abroad.

“We’re not falling behind our classmates in Charlottesville, ” Bowers said, when interviewed last spring.

Like their Commerce School peers in Charlottesville, and in addition to the course work, McIntire students who study abroad are required to conduct a group independent-study project, called the capstone project. Bowers, Lee, McBride and Thomson chose to research a large U.S.-based company on the Web. Each examined the company from various business perspectives — strategic management, finance, marketing — and then worked together on a conclusion that evaluated the financial benefit and feasibility of breaking the company apart into smaller, independent companies. In March, they presented their research conclusions to Brad Brown, a U.Va. associate professor of commerce specializing in business policy, ethics and international business, and director of McIntire’s study-abroad programs, during his visit to Bath University’s contemporary hilltop campus.

The students acknowledged the value gained by studying the various business segments of a company. “It feels like I really understand [the relationship between the areas] now,” said Lee.

Outside the classroom, the study-abroad students immersed themselves in the daily life of Bath — living in the center of the bustling historic city, shopping for groceries and other needs. A large part of their social life revolved around getting to know the students who shared their living accommodations. Some came from familiar places within the United States, while others came from Austria, the Netherlands and countries in the Far East.

“About 50 percent of the international students are in management,” Lee said.

At a dinner in March to celebrate the completion of their capstone presentations, conversation turned to travel plans for the three-week, mid-term break, which was coming up. The students had already been on trips to Stonehenge, London and Bristol as part of Bath’s international student orientation. McBride and Bowers had also taken advantage of cheap European airfares to travel to Dublin for St. Patrick’s Day, and Bowers had even hitchhiked to Paris for a charity student organization fund-raising event.

McBride’s plans for the mid-term break included traveling with family for a while, then touring with students from Texas who were also studying at Bath.

Lee planned to meet with McIntire students who were studying in Copenhagen, and travel with them to France, Spain and Italy.
Bowers, who was going to put his Eurail pass to good use and travel to about 12 European cities, said he valued the travel and academic experience because he knew he would likely be working one day with people from other cultures or even abroad.

“We’re breaking down preconceived notions about cultures — ours and theirs,” he said. “I walk around and everything is so different that different just becomes normal.”

Everyone returns to Charlottesville saying that study abroad is the best thing they have done, said Brown.

“It gets them into another culture and helps them understand the U.S. better. They make friends and learn to become citizens of the world and negotiate travel on their own.”


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