Lauding Wharton for Even Greater Global Focus

147677749The Lauder Institute is already unique because of its immersive, interdisciplinary focus. Yet with its new Global Program, the venerable 30-year-old Institute will start producing dual-degree MBA/MAs who are even more focused on the intersection of politics, economics, business and culture.

Consider the new Global Program a “startup” within the greater Lauder Institute, says its recently hired director, Professor Regina Abrami. The program will deliver something totally new that will complement Lauder’s existing strengths, like its focus on regional expertise and strong linguistic skills. What’s novel will be its study of the ever-changing focal points of the global political-economic system, such as international capital flows, the rise of sovereign wealth funds and China’s emerging dominance.

It’s a startup that is on the launching pad. After Round 1 of Wharton MBA Admissions, three students are already admitted. Round 2 of applications is underway. Abrami hopes for six to eight students in the first class, which will begin May 2013.

Professor Regina Abrami

Professor Regina Abrami

A new addition to Lauder herself, Abrami caught the “startup bug” while at Harvard Business School, where she launched two programs: a “Doing Business in China” elective course and the HBS’ global immersion programming. As inaugural faculty chair of the latter, HBS’s global immersion programming more than doubled in size; with more than 400 students participating in 11 country-specific immersions over the winter session.

Why then come to Wharton?

“By virtue of its reputation, how could you not want to be at Wharton,” said the former HSB faculty member. (Abrami, scholar of China and Vietnam, is now also a senior lecturer in the Political Science Department and senior fellow in the Management Department.)

Why start such a program?

“The logic is simple. The global economy is more interconnected, complex and uncertain than ever. At Lauder, our mission is to train managers who can operate in this kind of environment, who can adapt to different cultures and types of economies,” explains Mauro F. Guillen, director of the Lauder Institute and Wharton’s Dr. Felix Zandman Professor in International Management.

Also new will be coursework designed for the Global Program, such as classes on intercultural negotiations, international trade and the international legal order. These classes will take the place of language classes that Lauder students pursue on the other tracks. Lauder candidates must traditionally develop skills in one language; Global Program students will enter already proficient in two.

Global Program classes will be open to all Lauder students as electives, and Global Program students will complete Lauder’s required core curriculum, including Lauder’s novel Global Knowledge Labs, which allow students to demonstrate their expertise and language ability through cross-regional research projects, and the Institute’s summer-long immersion programming. The combination makes Lauder unique among U.S. and international business schools.

“Lauder is unlike anything else out there, and the Global Program also promises to be extraordinarily unique,” Abrami says.

Guillen adds: “Our goal is to make this program a centerpiece of what we do. This means developing a curriculum with courses, workshops and other activities that will be open to all Lauder students.”

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