Business goes global with new major

 

On June 7 the Wisconsin Board of  Regents approved an international business major for UW-Whitewater.

Starting this semester, business students will be able to broaden their learning experience with cross-cultural flair.

Previously, there was an international emphasis for general business majors, but according to assistant dean Janet Olson, a major is a far more attractive option for students.

“As a top-notch business school, this is something we really needed and it’s critical for students to get this kind of exposure,” Olson said. “It’s something the students have been interested in for a long time as well so last September we tried to get it approved.”

In addition to business classes, students will be expected to take foreign language classes and to study abroad for a semester. The business school has exchange opportunities with almost a dozen countries.

Kaviraj Parboteeah, professor of international management and business ethics, spearheaded the push for approval of the major along with Olson. He said that having experience in working with other cultures is critical in the global economy.

“In many ways we were behind in what we offered but now students can have a proficient understanding of other cultures,” Parboteeah said. “How you interact with people here is not the same in other cultures and sometimes you can engage in cultural missteps that can hurt your career.”

Parboteeah said that the U.S. is a melting pot and even students applying for jobs domestically will work with people who have different backgrounds. He said learning in the classroom is not always enough.

After growing up in Mauritius, an island off of the coast of Africa that was an English and French colony, Parboteeah learned to speak English, French and Creole.

Also in his time lecturing in Taiwan, Germany and South Korea and acting as a consultant for a Japanese banking firm, Parboteeah has gained an understanding of why people do things differently. He said that students need to understand these differences as well.

“When you look at the number of jobs that have an international component it’s amazing, especially in Wisconsin,” Parboteeah said. “We want people to know that this major will give them skills that can differentiate graduates and can be a factor in searching for jobs.”

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