International Business students with faculty member in Spain
Trustee Professor of Management Michael Roberto, DBA (seated fifth from left) taught International Business students in Barcelona for three weeks as part of the IB program's customized study abroad experience.
Customized IB study abroad offers valuable experience for faculty, students
Sep 25, 2019

For many students, study abroad is an option. But for students studying in Bryant's nationally ranked International Business (IB) program, study abroad during junior year is a must.

The required IB study abroad experience “sets the foundation for students to be global managers,” according to Crystal Jiang, Ph.D., director of the International Business program.

The program makes the challenge of adapting to a new environment less daunting in part because the students' semester abroad begins with some familiar faces: Bryant faculty members who travel to the study-abroad cities to teach an IB course on site.

“You end up bonding incredibly well because students voluntarily want to spend more time with you,” said Trustee Professor of Management Michael Roberto, DBA, who taught in Barcelona for three weeks. “I would hold office hours in a cafe, and hosted a dinner party for them. You get to know them on a personal level.”

"Being able to understand how to diagnose a culture and diagnose the fact that business operates differently gives you an advantage."

Roberto was one of five faculty members who taught IB courses abroad recently. The other faculty members were:

By creating a close-knit community that is an extension of the Smithfield campus, Bryant faculty "help us to feel more relaxed and confident in ourselves,” said Hayley Lowell ’20. “The city of Barcelona and the material covered in class were intimidating. Professor Roberto created an experience for us that made the intimidation vanish. I can confidently say that every single one of us walked away from that class being more engaged and passionate business students.”

Bryant IB students in Chile
Professor of Finance A. Can Inci, Ph.D. (fourth from right) with IB students in Chile

Each country offers students a unique global perspective for the study of business strategy and economic history. In Spain, students' studies included visiting Camp Nou, the home stadium of FC Barcelona, and an organic food supermarket. Students studying in Chile explored a winery and learned from a popular hotel about the tourism industry.

“It is so important to get firsthand exposure to different types of businesses,” Inci said. “Either the owner of the business or a high-level manager tells us what is going on and how the business was established. You can't get those perspectives any other way.”

While teaching abroad, faculty have an opportunity to conduct research. For example, while in Chile, Inci studied the Chilean economy for a paper he is writing on interlay price movements in the Santiago stock market.

Nearly half of all students travel abroad during their time at Bryant – some for a full semester, others as part of the two-week travel component of the Sophomore International Experience. Faculty as well as students agree the experience can be profound.

“It prepares you for conducting business, because you're going to end up doing business with people from other countries,” Roberto says. “Being able to understand how to diagnose a culture and diagnose the fact that business operates differently gives you an advantage.”

“It is something every student should not only do, but have the ability to do,” Lowell said. “Bryant is great at giving us that opportunity and encouraging us to take it.”

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