Business, Society, and the Economy
- Last Updated on Friday June 12, 2015
The United Arab Emirates international experience is designed to provide participants with a rich understanding of comparative business practices and culture in the UAE. Students gain firsthand knowledge about the transformation of the UAE to a growing economic hub that is an important player in regional and international affairs.
The modernization of Abu Dhabi and Dubai are stunning to see. Dubai is one of the most dynamic business environments in the world and it has become a major financial center, a premier trading center of the Arabian Gulf and a popular tourist destination. It has home-grown, world class companies such as Emirates Airlines and Dubai Ports World, as well as many multinational corporations. Dubai is also the center of an exciting and innovative architectural revolution. Dubai is currently a city of more than two million people, most of whom are expatriates that are the benefiting from city's increasingly diversified economy. The success of Dubai is particularly remarkable, since no more than 5% of Dubai's GDP comes from oil-related revenue. Abu Dhabi, the capital of the UAE, is also raising its international profile and is one of the largest oil producers in the world. Abu Dhabi is also on its way to becoming a global cultural center with the creation of the Cultural District on Saadiyat Island. The island will be home to the largest single concentration of premier cultural institutions including the Zayed National Museum, the Louvre Abu Dhabi and the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi all designed by award-winning international architects.
By visiting a wide range of organizations students learn that the UAE is shifting away from its dependence on oil and diversifying into new business sectors such as real estate, tourism, aviation, logistics, renewable energy, finance, and construction. Company visits include DP World, Masdar, Abu Dhabi Investment Authority, Aldar, Mubadala, ATIC, Jumeirah Group, Nakheel, Abu Dhabi Dredging Company, Dubal, Emaar, CNBC Arabia, Dubai International Finance Center, Kempinski Hotels, Dubai Chamber of Commerce, and Northrop Grumman.
The class visits some of the biggest, tallest, and most impressive megastructures in the world (Burj Al Arab, the most luxurious and tallest standing hotel tower in the world; Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world; Ferrari World Abu Dhabi, world's fastest roller coaster; Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, one of the world’s most impressive modern Islamic architectural masterpieces; Dubai Mall, the world's largest shopping destination; Emirates Palace, world’s most expensive hotel.
Past speakers have included Sir Tim Clark, President and Chief Executive Officer of Emirates; Nasif Kayed, Director of the Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding; Stephan Schupbach, Vice President of Operations at Jumeirah Group; Iain Lachlan Divisional Senior Vice President of Emirates, and UAE Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammad Bin Saud Al Qasimi. More than 470 University of Maryland students have traveled to the UAE since 2009 making it the most popular destination for short term education abroad experiences.
What students have said about the previous UAE Global Immersion Courses:
"This experience was life changing to me and has given me memories that will last a lifetime. I know that many of the class activities that we did on this trip would not be available to me if I had gone to the UAE on my own and I am very appreciative of this."
"Choosing to participate on this course was one of the best decisions I have made this year. Looking back on this great experience, I was given the opportunity to expand my knowledge on a culture that I know very little about through a vast range of activities."
"I will never forget my United Arab Emirates global immersion experience. I learned so much about the business practices, the economy, and the culture of the UAE and I know for a fact that I couldn't have learned all of these things from a text book. I strongly believed that one cannot truly understand a culture unless they are immersed in it.”
"This course was a great experience that I would repeat in the future, and is one whose memories I will cherish. Getting firsthand experience with a Middle Eastern country so different from my own in some ways and incredibly similar in others has really given me an expanded appreciation for people because I’ve seen that although we live a world apart, for the most part the people who live in the UAE share many of the same motivations and aspirations as I do, even if their customs and religion are different."
"I think that this course has made me a more tolerant and understanding person, and has equipped me with the perspective to look at things from a different point of view. In a way, it has also allowed me to earnestly realize that while we have preconceived notions of people that are different from us, those people also share notions of us that are not necessarily correct."
"I have gained tremendous appreciation and knowledge regarding the Emirati culture, as well as, how to do business in the Arab world. All of the goals and expectations I sought from this trip were met and exceeded. Not only was I able to open my eyes to a whole new region of the world but I was able to actually picture myself one day working for a company in the UAE. To be completely honest, before going on the trip, I would have not ventured into a company located in the United Arab Emirates. However, after realizing just how tolerant and diverse the lifestyle is in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, and Ras al-Khaimah, I am more confident than ever that I can thrive in this type of society."
Southeast Asia is a fascinating and important region of the world, characterized first and foremost by remarkable diversityin culture, history, politics, and social dynamics. It includes some of the world’s major religions and ethnic groups, as well as many local cultures, and languages.
The Southeast Asia global immersion program highlights the diversity and commonalities of the region in terms of political systems, state formation, urbanization processes and modernization trends, religious traditions, ethnic identities, emerging social issues and dominant cultural systems. Additionally, this course draws on first hand experiences in the region to explore the various cultural, historical, political, and social challenges in the region. The program provides an opportunity to travel to Singapore, Thailand and Malaysia and these three countries have become popular centers of commerce and intercultural exchange despite challenging social, political and cultural complexities.
Past global class trips have involved visiting the Singapore Economic Development Board (EDB), the lead government agency for planning and executing strategies to enhance Singapore’s position as a global business center; ExxonMobil, the largest foreign manufacturing investor in Singapore; Asia Pacific Breweries, producer of Singapore’s award-winning Tiger Beer and ranked one of the top companies in Asia with a reputation for being a top value creator for its customers, consumers, and shareholders; and Marina Bay Sands, the world’s most expensive stand-alone casino property worth $8 billion. Other organizational visits have included the Housing and Development Board, Media Development Authority, BBC, Singapore Airlines, Air Asia, Universal Studios, LEGOLAND Malaysia, Jurong Town Corporation, Port of Singapore Authority, Discovery Networks, eBay, Petronas, Royal Selangor, A*STAR, Yahoo, APL, and ESPN. For a glance into the political and system, the class toured Singapore’s Parliament and Supreme Court.
Past speakers have included Michael Morrison, Vice President ESPN International; John Courtney, Vice President eBay Customer Experience; John Hallenbeck, Vice President of Attractions - Resorts World Sentosa; Vineet Gambhir, Vice President Human Resources at Yahoo, Tom Keaveny Executive Vice President & Managing Director for Discovery Networks Asia-Pacific.Nicholas Ionides, Vice President Public Affairs at Singapore Airlines, Mark Juliano, Senior Vice President and Chief Casino Officer at Marina Bay Sands; and Sharanjit Leyl,Presenter/Producer at BBC News.
What students have said about the previous Southeast Asia Global Immersion Courses
"While participating in a short-term study abroad experience was undoubtedly fun, I also found the experience to be personally and academically enriching. The structure of the study abroad experience, which included business visits and cultural immersion activities in three countries, allowed me to develop an understanding of what makes Singapore, Malaysia, and Thailand unique."
"I began this course expecting to enjoy myself, and to experience the culture and food of Southeast Asia. After having a couple weeks to reflect on the experience, I realized how much I have learned from the experience. At first I thought that it would be hard to experience everything since we were going to visit three different countries in less than two weeks. By the time it was over, though, it felt like it had been a month. I was surprised by how much we were able to accomplish in just 12 days and by how much I had learned and changed during that short time period."
"After spending two weeks exploring the culture, history, and businesses in Singapore, Malaysia, and Thailand, I finally understood the value of studying abroad. Unlike my past travels which had only been vacations, I left this trip so much more globally-aware and with so much new knowledge"
"You truly do not know what the countries are like unless you experience it yourself since every person would have a different opinion. Traveling to Malaysia, Singapore, and Thailand was an adventure that I will never forget. These three countries were nothing like I would have expected."
Australia is truly a unique place and a great destination for a global immersion experience due to its growing business influence, welcoming culture, and many attractions.
The global immersion experience provides an overview of the political, economic, and cultural history of Australia. This course aims to provide a thorough introduction to Australia thereby enabling participants to: (1) form a basic understanding and a familiarity with Australian culture; (2) proceed to a deeper level of informed comparative analysis of the differences and similarities between Australia and their own culture; (3) ultimately experience a sense of cultural immersion. Australia is the world's sixth largest country and it's the smallest, flattest continent. It's about the same size as the 48 mainland states of the USA and 50 percent larger than Europe, but has the lowest population density in the world - only two people per square kilometer.
The program is designed to provide deep insight into the opportunities and challenges faced by global business professionals managing and operating business enterprises in a global environment. Through lectures, guest speakers, and a business and cultural trip to Australia, the program offers a great opportunity for personal enrichment. It will focus on the business skills necessary to succeed in an increasingly global economy.
Students participating in the previous course also visited Rio Tinto, Reserve Bank of Australia, Qantas Airlines, BHP Billiton, Google Australia, Atlassian, Melbourne Cricket Grounds, Australian Parliament, Port Waratah Coal Services, Common Wealth Bank of Australia, Australian Football League, Circus Oz, Foster’s Group, and the Bundaberg Rum Distillery.
Past speakers have included Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director of Qantas Airlines, Mike Cannon-BrookesCo-founder and CEO Atlassian; George Robinson, General Manager of Group Strategy at Common Wealth Bank of Australia, Lucinda Barlow, Head of Marketing for Google Australia, Ian Johnson, CEO of Fosters Group, and Mike Finch, Artistic Director at Circus Oz.
In addition to the business visits, the study tour included snorkeling in the Great Barrier Reef, climbing the Sydney Harbor Bridge, visiting the Sydney Opera, riding along the Great Ocean Road with a stop at the Twelve Apostles, and touring Fraser Island. The past course included traveling to Melbourne, Canberra, Sydney, Brisbane, Fraser Island, and Agnes Water
What students have said about the previous Australia Global Immersion Course
“I can honestly say that overall, this course was an invaluable experience. In just a short two weeks, I was able to learn more about global business practices, Australian culture, and even myself, than I ever could have in a classroom. The hands-on approach to learning that was implemented on this trip gave actual meaning to the words spoken by professors and written in articles."
"I saw firsthand how important it is to push yourself to go outside of your comfort zone and try new things. A large amount of what I learned about Australia on this course came from Australians themselves. No amount of reading about the local culture, economy, or environment could have given me the level of understanding that I gained through my experiences."
"Going abroad for just 2 weeks truly changed me as a person, Throughout the experience I learned so much about myself and grew in a short period of time. I was able to overcome some of my fears, and I really pushed myself out of my comfort zone."
More than 125 students have traveled to Australia since 2011. After students complete the tour of Australia they complete a program reflection.
Innovation Immersion Experience
The innovation immersion experience provides a valuable opportunity for direct exposure to companies that have significantly changed their industry landscape through the implementation of innovative management strategies that allowed them to build a sustained competitive advantage.
The course is designed to help students make connections between academic theory and real-world practice. The course helps students integrate concepts from previous courses and gain valuable field experience. This course benefits students by providing a dynamic learning environment that merge traditional education with practical experience. The experience often leads to valuable networking, and it is possible that some of you may end up working at the companies visited. The course involves some extensive interactions with a significant number of executives, entrepreneurs, and venture partners (many sessions are led by successful UMD alumni).
Past company visits have included Amazon, Google, Facebook, Tesla, Adidas, Nike, Electronic Arts, Cisco, Microsoft, eBay, Alaska Airlines, Flextronics, Twitter, Starbucks, LinkedIn, Pixar, Salesforce.com, Intel, and Boeing. In addition, small companies have participated such as Zoosk, Cube, Accelops, WePay, and LaunchSquad. Students have also been exposed to venture capital funds such as Greylock Partners and Mayfield Fund.
The value of this experience is that students will be able to meet working professionals in organizations that have dominated their industry for a sustained period of time. The experience often leads to valuable networking opportunities. Students come away with newfound energy, inspiration, important business contacts and ideas to enhance your future career.
Most of the time for the course is spent in Silicon Valley. Silicon Valley is widely regarded as the ultimate success as an incubator of start-ups and entrepreneurship. More than 40 percent of all venture capital investments in the United States come from Silicon Valley firms.
The course takes students behind the scenes to reveal the factors underlying the remarkable success of Silicon Valley. Students enrolled in the innovation immersion experience learn about: 1) How Silicon Valley adapts through continuous cycles of innovation; 2) Why the high tolerance for risk, as well as failure, is a huge competitive advantage; 3) How the Silicon Valley business model, including generous and flexible employee benefits, contributes to the robustness of the industries based there; 4) Why venture capital swelled so magnificently in Silicon Valley, while languishing in other major metropolitan cities; 5) What traits set the Silicon Valley entrepreneur apart from others; 6) How to create a quality of life that attracts and retains the best talent in the world.
Along with visiting Silicon Valley, the students have visited Seattle, Portland and Las Vegas. While in Las Vegas the students have participated in the world’s largest annual innovation event (Consumer Electronics Show) that showcases the latest innovations. The show is considered the “Global Stage for Innovation.” CES attracts more than 150,000 industry professionals and more than 3,000 exhibitors introducing over 20,000 new products across a range of product lines.
Past speakers have included Marc Greenberg, Vice President of Finance & Strategy at Pixar, Jeff Markowitz, Partner at Greylock, Howard White, Vice President of the Jordan Brand at Nike, Vinod Paris, Vice President, Engineering at Cisco Systems Inc; Michael George, Vice President of Apps, Games, and Cloud Drive at Amazon, Alex Mehr Co-Founder & President at Zoosk and Brad Margolis, Ph.D., Director, Executive Development & Organizational Effectiveness,
More than 75 students have participated in the innovation immersion experience. After students complete the experience complete a program reflection.
Dr. Mark Wellman traveled with 12 Business, Society and Economy Student Scholars to the Berkshire Hathaway Annual Shareholders meeting held in Omaha, Nebraska. The group flew to Kansas City, and then made the 3-hour trek to Omaha the night before so they would be ready for the 7 am opening at the Qwest Center Omaha. The all-day event attended by an estimated 40,000 people, gathered mainly to listen to the conversation between Warren Buffett, 80, Berkshire's Chairman and CEO, Charlie Munger, 87, Berkshire's Vice-Chairman.Berkshire Hathaway’s shareholder meeting is a highly anticipated event by many professionals in the financial industry and the event has been called the “Woodstock for Capitalists.” Berkshire's value investing practices don't exactly lend themselves to flash and excitement but last year over 34,000 people attended the annual meeting. Many of the world’s greatest investors travel from all corners of the earth to listen to the “Oracle of Omaha” speak at the annual meeting. By attending the meeting, the students gained a perspective about finance and investing that would not be possible strictly in the classroom. The shareholder meeting provided a unique opportunity to see and study Berkshire Hathaway’s individual subsidiaries. Students had the opportunity to speak with company representatives and to sample their products. The students with a finance and investing interest really enjoyed the event. The event was very educational, and motivational.
Here’s what a few of the attendees said about their opportunity:
"Truly a great experience. I got to experience the Oracle of Omaha firsthand and saw what has made Berkshire-Hathaway so successful; they value people and know how to treat them well."
-Webster Hughes (freshman)
It was an incredibly beneficial opportunity to get to see one of the smartest men in the business world, Warren Buffet, talk. His speech and learning about him before the trip gave me a whole new insight into the business world.
--Brett Jacobson (sophomore)
The trip was was a great experience for any business student; Dr. Wellman truly provided his students an incredible opportunity. Warren Buffet is an extremely energetic business mastermind with a great sense of humor.
-- Jack Colver (freshman)
The Hershey experience follows readings and discussion of the work and achievements of Milton S. Hershey and his entrepreneurial achievements, including the creation of the Hershey bar, the founding of the business, and the development of the mass market for chocolate. The broader contributions that Milton Hershey made to a sustainable, mutually beneficial social contract between business and community will also be discussed and witnessed during our 1-hour Guided Trolley Tour throughout the town. The all-day excursion to Hershey, PA also involves a field trip to the Hershey School and Hershey Park. The mission of Milton Hershey School is to nurture and educate children in social and financial need to lead fulfilling and productive lives.
On Scholars Annual Service Day, students from each of the Scholars programs join together to help out the surrounding community. Beginning their day at Comcast Center, faculty, staff, and student leaders greet the incoming Scholars class, and prepare for a full day of service. Service Day gives students the opportunity to get to know fellow Scholars and start building relationships with faculty members. Through teamwork and cooperation, Scholars not only become acquainted with the program, but also come away from the day knowing that they helped to make a difference in their community. More information is available at our Service Day site.
Every spring, the Scholars programs come together and engage in some healthy competition, all for a good cause. This daylong tournament fields teams from each program on our campus engineering fields. Since the first teams took the field in 1998, the "Step Up to Bat for Kids" Charity Softball Tournament has been able to donate over $10,000 to charities around the world who deal with the health and welfare of children and families. The success of the event relies completely on the dedication and support from students and staff. While Scholars are responsible for raising all of the money, faculty and staff plan far in advance in order to provide students with a memorable and rewarding experience. More information on the tournament is available on our "Step Up to Bat for Kids" site.
The BSE Disney field trip allowed students to:
- participate in an exclusive onstage and backstage field experience to gain insight into all of the work required to execute a memorable customer experience;
- explore and validate the fundamental business models that drive strategic decisions at the Walt Disney World Resort;
- discover systems, people, and processes behind the scenes that work together to produce a quality experience;
- observe the application of systems and processes within the Walt Disney World Resort in the achievement of service excellence;
- appreciate the importance of creating a positive culture that drives employee commitment;
- interact with key Disney Leaders to gain a personal perspective on leadership behaviors and their influence on culture and performance. As part of the Disney experience, students participated in a Disney Institute program that covered topics such as leadership, customer service, strategy, and corporate culture.