Alumni Magazine Summer 2014 - page 13-14

Summer 2014
Summer 2014
Nearly 4,000 miles from Potsdam, N.Y., in Konstanz,
Germany, associate professors of Consumer &
Organizational Studies Sandra Fisher and Michael
Wasserman are co-teaching a summer course to
business students at the University of Applied Sciences.
The two began their association with the
German university in 2011, when Fisher spent her
sabbatical there. The pair was invited to return the
following summer to teach and have returned each
year ever since.
The course, Sustainable Supply Chain
Management, reflects their respective areas of
expertise. Fisher’s research centers around human
resources management while Wasserman’s interests
include the area of environmental supply chain.
Their class considers the supply chain from both a
people and an environment perspective.
That the course takes a global view and is
taught in English is also a plus. “It draws a diverse
group of students,” says Wasserman. “In addition to
the German students, exchange students often take
our class.
So we also
have students
from places
like Hong
Kong, Turkey
and Brazil.”
emphasis and
the diversity
of the
make for a
exchange of ideas and cultural perspectives. But its
ramifications are felt well beyond Germany and for
much longer than the class’s six-week duration.
Dayle Smith, dean of the Clarkson School of
Business, sees the positive impact faculty teaching
and researching abroad has on students back on
“We teach global concepts but now our students
could actually collaborate internationally,” says Fisher.
Such work has its special challenges. Styles of
communication are different in Germany and the
six-hour time difference posed problems. “Our
students wanted to work at 10 p.m., which was
about 4 a.m. in Germany, so scheduling meetings
was a challenge,” Fisher says. “But that’s one of the
realities of working globally.”
The experience also provided an excellent
opportunity for an exchange of cultural values.
“German students have solar panels everywhere,” says
Wasserman. “They are very tuned into this technology
and renewable energies in general. Our students
simply don’t have this kind of familiarity. So differences
emerged in their attitudes toward green energy.”
This summer, as part of the School of Business’
Global Businesses program, 13 Clarkson students
embarked on a three-week, faculty-led trip to
Germany, France and Switzerland.
The students spent a week in Wasserman’s and
Fisher’s sustainable supply chain management class
in Konstanz, learning alongside their European
counterparts and making site visits to German
businesses and factories.
To prepare for it, the students enrolled in a
special class in the spring term led by the two School
of Business faculty and their colleague Annegret
Staiger, associate professor of anthropology. The class
involved business case analyses as well as discussions
on social, cultural and economic issues in Europe
and basic language practice.
“These countries enjoy high standards of living
and produce quality export products while maintaining
high standards of sustainability in business,” says Fisher.
“The goal for our students was to develop an awareness
of the cultural and political climate that fosters ‘green’
business while learning about a variety of European and
multinational business practices and their impact on
sustainable business.”
Adaptability is Key
Once in Konstanz, the Clarkson students quickly
got down to work with their new classmates while
visiting companies and taking in some of the
region’s culture. They also benefited from special
guests and lecturers. One of these was Clarkson
alumna Catherine Le Creff ’07 (MBA).
Originally from France, Le Creff ’s successful
career as a supply chain professional has taken
her to the United States, Switzerland and North
Africa. Today, Le Creff is a managing director for a
global supply chain consulting company based in
Zurich. For today’s business students, Le Creff says,
“Adaptability is absolutely key to success.”
Clarkson School of Business Dean Dayle Smith
visited the class and met with leaders at the German
university to explore creative ways of building the
relationship between the two schools through more
student opportunities and faculty exchanges.
For Smith, no business education today
is complete without opportunities to build
international understanding. “Our students came
away with a greater understanding of the European
Union, global strategy and international marketing
opportunities,” she says.
“The Konstanz partnership
is a great example of what we
can accomplish when we work
with our alumni and partner
institutions abroad to facilitate
global learning programs for our
students and our faculty.”
campus. “For the students they teach at Clarkson,
their expansive knowledge and broadened perspective
enhance cultural sensitivity in the classroom and
provide a global context to the courses they teach.”
“This is why opportunities for faculty and
student exchange at the international level are
essential if we are to prepare leaders for a global
business community,” she adds.
Stefan Schweiger, study dean at the University
of Applied Sciences’ School of Business, agrees.
“Many of ours students will work for international
companies or for regional ones with international
customers and suppliers. It is important for
employees to have English language and
intercultural skills. So the value of Sandy’s and
Mike’s work for us is very high.”
Building on Success
The University of Applied Sciences is one of Clarkson’s
36 international partner schools. Clarkson students
can study abroad at these institutions, while students
from partner schools are eligible to come to Clarkson.
School of Business students also have opportunities to
participate in shorter, faculty-led trips abroad to satisfy
an international education requirement.
Kathryn Johnson, vice president for University
Outreach and Student Affairs, is responsible for
forging relationships with overseas universities and
overseeing the study abroad programs. “Faculty
involvement with partner institutions enhances the
educational experience, and the strength of these
relationships,” she says.
Thanks in large part to Fisher’s and Wasserman’s
work, the partnership between Clarkson and the
University of Applied Sciences has flourished. As a
result, new exchange opportunities to enhance cross-
cultural learning and research are being explored.
In 2013, Wasserman and Fisher created an
opportunity for students at Clarkson to partner with
their German students through cyber technology
on a case analysis of an environmental supply chain
problem related to solar panels.
“The trip provided so many lessons and great experiences — especially on the
course’s topic of sustainability in business. As to be expected, the companies
we visited had various levels of commitment to sustainability. To become part of
the campus at Konstanz for a week was an amazing experience. We learned so
much about German culture and it allowed us to meet fellow business students
in an international setting.”— Nick Wentzel ’16
(l) Prof. Sandra Fisher and Catherine Le Creff ’07 working with students.
Global Fluency
A Partnership with the University of Applied Sciences in Germany
facilitates cross-cultural dialogue. It also provides a strong
educational model for developing global thinkers and leaders.
Clarkson students relaxing in sustainably designed outdoor space.
School of Business Dean Dayle Smith and students in Konstanz
at a negotiations workshop.
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