CSOM to promote more study abroad

Carlson School faculty travel to universities in Poland, Austria and China to instruct foreign students in English.

Randal Zimmermann said studying abroad in Israel was his most formidable and life-changing experience. Now he wants others at the Carlson School of Management to share that opportunity.

Zimmermann, who was appointed the Carlson School’s international programs director on April 5, said he experienced culture shock when he saw the prevalence of the military in Israeli life.

Israel requires military duty of its citizens and terrorism was always a threat, but the experience he gained was invaluable, Zimmermann said.

“(Israelis) have a completely different mindset, a different sense of values,” he said.

More students should take advantage of the chance to study abroad, he said.

He said he hopes to get more students and faculty to study and teach abroad. He is also trying to develop new Carlson School programs in other countries.

Zimmermann wants to expand Carlson School undergraduate participation in studying abroad from its current 30 percent to at least 50 percent in the next few years, he said.

But Mahmood Zaidi, a Carlson School professor, said the programs – which he helped create in the early 1990s – can only expand as much as the students demand them.

Zimmermann’s greatest challenge will be influencing students to prioritize studying abroad, said Michael Houston, an associate dean at the Carlson School.

“Many students do not participate because the cost is an added burden,” Houston said. “Sometimes (studying abroad) interferes with internships and part-time jobs.”

But Zimmermann said the costs of tuition and living expenses are comparable to the University for some of the study abroad programs.

Shorter seminar study abroad programs can enrich students who cannot schedule or afford the exchange program for a semester, said international programs coordinator Christina Linhoff.

“Eighty percent of undergraduates (at Carlson School) are from Minnesota or Wisconsin,” she said. “Understanding the wide world is really important to their development.”

Houston said some business schools, such as the one at Harvard University, are deciding whether to make studying abroad mandatory for all students.

“(Studying abroad) is becoming increasingly important to all students because the world is shrinking,” Houston said.

Linhoff said more employers are looking for students who understand the world economy.

Improving the skills of the University faculty is another goal of Carlson School programs, Zimmermann said.

Carlson School faculty travel to universities in Warsaw, Poland, Vienna, Austria, and Guangzhou, China, to instruct foreign students in English.

“(International programs) help faculty build experience and let them accumulate academic contacts and promote more research and publishing,” he said.

The Carlson School also offers foreign students in those cities a chance to earn an executive master of business administration degree without studying in the United States.

Zimmermann said he wants to expand the master’s program to countries in South America, Asia and Eastern Europe.

“The programs help (Carlson School) continue to build its brand identity internationally,” he said.

Taking over the job as well as making plans for the future takes a lot of coordination, Houston said.

“The biggest challenge is getting up to speed with respect to the programs we have and develop new ones,” he said.

Houston said the University and international host universities must work together to create the programs.