Learning from abroad: Becoming
citizens of the world
Photo by Jane Ford
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
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
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
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
well for budgeting their time and working efficiently during
“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
project, called the capstone project. Bowers, Lee, McBride
and Thomson chose to research a large U.S.-based company
on the Web.
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.
50 percent of the international students are in management,” Lee
At a dinner in March to celebrate the completion
of their capstone presentations, conversation turned
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,
Bowers, who was going to put his Eurail pass
to good use and travel to about 12 European
he valued the travel
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
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.”