New global business class at Northeast offers immersive experience

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by amandab  11/22/2017 8:27:13 AM --  NORFOLK, NE - A new global business class at Northeast Community College has students on both sides of the Atlantic saying “Det er for sejt” (that’s so cool). The course, Global Business: A Partnership with Denmark, explores global business in collaboration with Northeast and Aarhus Business College in Aarhus, Denmark.

The course introduces the concept of globalization and discusses the opportunities and challenges that businesses face in the changing global economy. Other topics include ethical decision making, business strategy, organization, marketing and human resources, all with an eye toward the global marketplace.

Using collaborative distance learning technology, including cameras and audio, the class pairs seven students on Northeast’s Norfolk campus with 24 students from Aarhus Business College. One student on Northeast’s O’Neill extended campus also participates using the same distance learning technology.

Some small group assignments the class has completed include analyzing messages about globalization in political cartoons, practicing the ethical decision making process and exploring international Top 100 companies’ marketing mixes. Students also participate in language lessons, discussions of cultural determinants and explorations of the similarities and differences between Denmark and the United States.

Northeast business instructors Maryjan Fiala and Cara Hoehne, and Aarhus Business College’s Brith Jøker co-teach the course.

“Our students are gaining experience working in virtual teams on an international scale while developing cultural awareness and skills that will benefit them in today’s workforce. They are also experiencing firsthand the power of technology and how it seems to minimize the distance between two countries,” Fiala said.

During a recent class session, Jøker, the instructor at Aarhus, briefly switched on all the microphones on her end. The lively chatter of a 2 p.m. class in Denmark filled the quiet Northeast classroom, where where the Northeast were starting the day bright and early with an 8 a.m. class.

The session opened with a language lesson. In small groups using laptops, the Aarhus students were tasked with teaching their American classmates key Danish words. Within seconds, the Northeast students were repeating “i dag” (today), “næste” (next) and “tak” (thank you) back to their classmates.

And because their Aarhus counterparts already know English (Danish public school students typically begin learning it in first grade), the Northeast students instead taught them the meanings behind common phrases used in everyday American business, such as “red tape” and “ballpark figure.”

“It’s difficult to select one assignment or project that has had the most impact, as each session is eye opening for both students and faculty,” Hoehne said. “Northeast students continue to explore international business topics and discuss the takeaways from their small group discussions during the class periods, even when we are not connected with Denmark.”

For their large semester project, the eight groups have been charged with selecting an international company to research in relationship to the course’s core topics of globalization, culture, ethics and marketing.

Hoehne said that with direction from Vision 2020, the College’s five-year strategic plan, and the program advisory board for Business and Banking Services, the Northeast business department determined that international business skills are essential for students graduating with an Associate of Applied Science degree in business.

“With our administration’s support, we are able to provide our students with a course that not only covers international business topics but also gives the students the opportunity to interact with students from another country and culture. Our students have made lifelong connections with their Danish partners while acquiring a better understanding of international business.”

When Global Business: A Partnership with Denmark is offered again next fall, the class will have an even more immersive experience built into its syllabus. Students will have the option to join a ten-day trip to Denmark and Germany during the semester.

During their time there, the students will travel to Copenhagen, Denmark and Hamburg, Germany, visit various businesses in Aarhus and spend time on campus at Aarhus Business College, where they will be immersed in the Danish education system and work face-to-face with their Danish group members. They will also give presentations on American culture in other classrooms across Aarhus Business College’s campuses.

This spring, the Northeast students will get an early chance to practice their Danish, as the College will host approximately 25 students from College 360 in Silkeborg, which is near Aarhus.

Dr. Michael Chipps, Northeast president, said he hopes Global Business: A Partnership with Denmark serves as a springboard into other opportunities for the College’s students.

“It is great that we have this collaboration between our colleges, as Brith, Cara and Maryjan are setting the stage to what we hope will be the development of more classes similar to this across our College community.”

Registration for next fall’s Global Business: A Partnership with Denmark is open to all Northeast majors. For more information, contact Pam Saalfeld, director of the Center for Global Engagement, at (402) 844-7466.



PHOTO CUTLINE - Global Business 1


Northeast Community College student Josephine Ramirez, Norfolk, meets with her small group at Aarhus Business College in Aarhus, Denmark, via collaborative distance learning technology during a recent meeting of Global Business: A Partnership with Denmark. The course introduces the concept of globalization and discusses the opportunities and challenges that businesses face in the changing global economy. (Courtesy Northeast Community College)

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