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Leveraging International Partnerships for Program Innovation

 

Leonard A. Schlesinger

 

With more than half of Babson College’s students engaging in some form of international experience sometime during their studies, the college has had to create new models to broaden options and provide even more opportunities for students to go global. Two new and unique models, inaugurated in 2009, capitalize on Babson’s strengths, such as its leadership in entrepreneurship education, while leveraging existing international partnerships.
 
In one model, undergraduate students explore the cultures and economies of developing countries through a semester-long experience that combines Babson coursework with travel and study in three of the world’s largest and fastest-growing emerging economies. The second model, created in partnership with EMLYON Business School in France and the Zhejiang University School of Management in China, enables students to earn a master’s degree in global entrepreneurship while studying on three different continents during the 12-month program.
 
Students in the new undergraduate program, titled The BRIC Countries: The Cornerstone of the New Global Economy, divide the semester between studying and living in Russia, India, and China. The program leverages partnerships with academic institutions in each country by drawing on local partners to help provide curricular and cultural content. Babson faculty with expertise in the relevant region teach the actual courses in each country. For example, a Babson entrepreneurship professor teaches an in-country course on new venture creation in China, while using partnership connections to enhance the course by linking students with local entrepreneurs, government officials, and experts at Chinese academic institutions.
 
The first cohort of 20 students completed the BRIC program in fall 2009. As noted by one participant, “The program gave me the best of both worlds. The coursework fit perfectly into my Babson program of study, but living in these three countries, being exposed to diverse cultural and academic opportunities, and connecting with experts in-country really brought the subject matter to life.”

The Global Entrepreneurship Program (GEP) is an equal partnership among Babson, EMLYON, and Zhejiang. All three institutions are global leaders in entrepreneurship education, thus the partnership enables students to obtain a cutting-edge perspective on new venture creation, delivered in three diverse global markets. Each institution recruits one-third of the students in the program, provides one-third of the curricular content, and hosts the entire cohort of students for one-third of the program. The program emphasizes both theoretical and practical aspects of doing business in each country. Students live the lessons they learn in the classroom by combining case studies, lectures, coaching sessions, group projects, and cultural events into a complete and immersive learning experience. The first group of 75 students began the GEP in fall 2009 at EMLYON and will finish the program at Babson in summer 2010.
 
Both new programs focus on important topics for future global business leaders. They are made possible by combining strong Babson faculty and institutional engagement with the support and involvement of partners in other parts of the world. Together, these programs help Babson fulfill its stated mission: “To educate a generation of leaders who create great economic and social value . . . everywhere.”
 
 
Leonard A. Schlesinger is president of Babson College. He thanks Dennis Hanno, Dean of the Undergraduate School, for his contribution to this sidebar.