The Institute will be distinguished by:
- Real world focus and real-world outcomes - Each year, the Institute will select an international host community and a specific business project with a social justice focus; students, faculty and the host community work together to create socially responsible, implementable solutions to a real world challenge.
- Broad outreach to students - The mission of the Institute will be to provide all business undergraduate and all graduate students with a global perspective. The Institute will fulfill this mission by offering a variety of study abroad opportunities and financial support for students with limited means. Because the international theme is incorporated across the curriculum, it is relevant for all business majors.
- University-wide impact - Selecting one project and one host community provides the opportunity for year-long thematic programming within the School and across the University community. Institute activities will include bringing host community experts to campus for cultural training and campus-wide presentations.
- Faculty development opportunities - Organizing each year's coursework around a central project will provide faculty with research opportunities relevant to understanding the challenge, arriving at a solution, and evaluating outcomes for a global problem. During the summer, the Institute will provide faculty research opportunities which benefit the selected community.
The first faculty-led program will occur in the summer of 2009. The theme adopted this year is Costa Rica and the social justice project is Casa Luz, a non-profit organization, which is a haven for adolescent mothers who come from extreme poverty and have been abused and exploited. Students will formulate a business plan; develop marketing communication strategies and colaterals; identify prospective donors; design a new website; identify potential revenue producing 'cottage industries'; and recommend new accounting methods that meet the criteria for tax credits in the US, Canada, and EU.
Consistent with the Mission of St. Edward's University, through their study/work abroad opportunities, the School seeks to helps students 'understand themselves, clarify their personal values, and recognize their responsibility to the world community.' Institute projects will emphasize fostering peace through commerce and the projects will enable our students to experience first-hand how one person, or a small group of people, can make a lasting difference. While the School has been offering study/work abroad opportunities since 2001, the Institute differs significantly in scope and impact from past efforts.
Most notably, formalizing the business study abroad opportunities under the leadership of an Institute enables the School to adopt a more strategic approach to identifying international locations and service projects years in advance. Thus, rather than having individual faculty work on small international projects with groups of primarily graduate students during the course of an academic year, the Institute identifies one location with one significant project with a social justice focus that will span an entire academic year.
Since 2003 when the School of Management and Business offered its initial graduate seminar in foreign business in Belize, Central America, the school has offered graduate students one foreign seminar and one global consulting course abroad each trimester for a total of six or more courses per calendar year. To date, over 350 graduate business students, alumni, and faculty have worked on projects throughout the world including Belize, Costa Rica, Caribbean, India, China, Germany, Belgium, France, Denmark, Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Hungary. Past international consulting engagements have included performing research, building knowledge compendiums, the formulating implementable and measurable strategies, and development business plans. This Institute will dramatically build on this experience by including the undergraduate population, developing thematic programming throughout the school year, and offering faculty research opportunities. St. Edward's will also bring in 2 to 3 host country experts to campus to provide seminars and offer much-needed context about the region of interest.