23 June 2021
This is what all business school students have been wondering for almost a year. When internationalization is an important aspect of the skills acquired in the course, how can they be sure that they will be able to manage diversity and work in a multi-cultural environment when travel is made impossible by the health crisis?
A number of schools have tackled this issue and are proposing innovative teaching solutions. Of course, you will have to wait a while to discover new flavors, or develop your orientation skills in the subway in a place where you don't speak the language...
However, travel - or a university exchange - is not just a holiday in an exotic country. It is about interculturalism, open-mindedness, and encountering diversity. These are the real skills that students bring back in their luggage after a semester abroad.
These skills can be acquired remotely - this is what we call "Internationalization at home". What's the idea? Bringing together students from different worlds (and universities), who speak a variety of languages, and having them work together on shared topics.
Of course, the international professors in business schools are valuable resources for facilitating these new kinds of work groups. At ESDES, for example, students from the Bachelor program are mixed with Moroccan students from ESCA and Greek students from a third partner for an entirely digital entrepreneurial competition. Their assignment: to reveal the business opportunities that will emerge from the health crisis. Their language of work? English of course!
Professors from the 3 institutions take turns leading the student groups. Overcoming preconceived ideas from their primary culture, understanding and convincing in a language other than their own, discovering and accepting the cultural practices of others... these are all challenges that students will learn to take on.
Internationalization at home is a concrete experience in managing multiculturalism, like a preview of the assignments and challenges that await these future managers in large global corporations.
While the experience does not have the flavor of on-site discovery, it is rich in professional benefits and acquired skills. It is also a good way to reduce one's carbon footprint... before being able to take the plane again one day!
Discover ESDES Lyon Business School.