A record number of Robins School students continue to study abroad each year. "This is happening in large part because they recognize the interdependence of peoples, cultures, and countries and that to be successful businessmen and businesswomen, they need to have an in-depth understanding of different cultures," says Dr. Tom Cosse, associate dean for international business programs.

"Reading about different cultures is no substitute for the kind of first-hand, on-the-ground experiences that are obtained by studying and working abroad," explains Cosse. "The great international partners that we have developed over the years combined with the encouragement and support of the faculty makes it natural for our students to go abroad."

Due to the growing demand for international experiences and for experiential learning, Robins School faculty are being encouraged to develop shorter-term, course-related opportunities that complement longer-term semester and summer study abroad options.

One faculty member who has wholeheartedly embraced the concept is management professor Candace Deans. Last year she began teaching "Global Business in a Digital World." The course, offered again this year, includes a unique two-week international experience. Students attend weekly classes during the semester in preparation for the international component at the end of the semester.

The fall class will visit the Middle East (Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Doha and Manama) during the winter holiday, while the spring class will go to China (Shanghai, Beijing, Dalian, Xian and Hong Kong) in May.

This multidisciplinary course highlights a different speaker each week from several departments across campus including geography, history, anthropology, law, and language to provide students country and culture background information.

Senior Lindsay Rumer, who is enrolled in the class this fall semester, cannot seem to get enough study abroad experiences. In 2007 she studied in China through Richmond's Summer Study Abroad program, and last fall she studied at the Robins School's partner school in Beijing, Tsinghua University School of Economics and Management.

"[Deans'] class is a great opportunity to learn about a region of the world that seems to be on the rise in the global economy," says Rumer. "My background in international business has been focused on China, so I wanted to expand that perspective by learning about another region of the world. Dr. Deans gives a broad perspective on the Middle East — everything from the culture, language and customs."

While abroad, students visit key companies in each country such as MeadWestvaco, IBM and Weatherford, where company representatives discuss business trends in their countries and describe some of the challenges and opportunities for their businesses and industries.

Lectures at local universities and numerous cultural activities are also an important part of their international experience. Students may also visit with alumni abroad, who share their experiences living and working in their respective countries.

Senior Julie Stevenson, who traveled to China in the spring, recalled, "The alumni were very helpful in providing us a better understanding of their cities as well as offering future assistance with international internships."

As a result of this course, Deans is one of three finalists for the Decision Sciences Institute's (DSI) Innovation in Teaching Award.

Unique, international class offerings such as "Global Business in a Digital World" and the many other University-wide international programs are among the reasons why in 2007 Newsweek named Richmond as the "Hottest School in America" for international studies.