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Embracing International Education

With global trade growing exponentially, the need for international education is becoming more critical than ever. The Boler College of Business embraces this learning style for JCU students by providing them with experiential learning opportunities that build international-mindedness, which they can rely on throughout their lives. International education serves students in various ways. Trips abroad allow students to expand their worldview and develop cross-cultural awareness through understanding different cultures, perspectives, and views. Boler faculty are employing these trips to apply and demonstrate specific course curricula in real-world settings. 


Boler in Belize

Tina M. Facca-Miess, Ph.D., Chair of Management, Marketing and Supply Chain and Associate Professor of Marketing, has been leading trips abroad since 2011. These short, eight-day trips are set in the context of a course she teaches: Micro-enterprise Development in Impoverished Markets. The course covers an array of global development issues including sustainability, refugee economies, and dictatorships to democracy. Last semester, Boler students spent their spring break in Belize building relationships established in previous years such as working with a local hot sauce company, Marie Sharp’s. Boler faculty and students have maintained a relationship with the company since 2020. 

Building Relationships Abroad

During and after their first trip to Belize, Boler students applied their lessons from their courses, completing market research and analyses for the hot sauce company, and designing a data-driven strategy to infiltrate the U.S. market, specifically for college students. Through a capstone project for their strategic value co-creation marketing class, Boler students worked with Marie Sharp’s American distributor to solve issues related to perfectly good, but recently expired products, creating opportunities for a donation of the sauces to local food banks. Dr. Facca-Miess says this type of experiential learning provides a variety of real-world business involvement. “A lot of our students are marketing and supply chain double majors, so this type of education is the type of depth and experience we’re looking for in our business immersion trips.” 

Building Skills and Character

In addition to building practical business skills, students are also taken out of their comfort zones while participating in the immersion trips. For many students, this is the first time witnessing deep poverty. Dr. Facca-Miess believes this is both powerful and transformative for those taking part in the trips. “To watch the students, over the course of a few days, get comfortable in these new surroundings and then hear them reflect on the experience is life-changing,” she says. Dr. Facca-Miess says it is inspiring to see the welcoming nature of the impoverished, some refugees, and how students open up and interact with them throughout the trips.

Bringing International Students to Boler

In addition to sending JCU students abroad, the university reciprocates by hosting several inbound international students. Melanie Hahn, Director of the Center for Global Studies, says there are about 60 international students at JCU. She says that number has doubled over the past academic year. Her office works with both incoming and outgoing students to ensure they have all the information necessary to apply for visas and housing and assist with travel arrangements. 

Most international students come from Europe and Asia, with Japanese students making up most of the Asian demographic. Hahn says more than 95% of international students are studying in majors within the Boler College of Business. Finance, accountancy, and entrepreneurship are the leading programs among international students. Her office works with both incoming and outgoing students to ensure they have all the information necessary to apply for visas and housing and assist with travel arrangements. 

Hahn believes international students get more than a top-tier business education from their experience. “We’re fortunate to provide housing to our inbound international students,” She says. “In addition to accessing a great business school, these students get to experience American culture on both a small college campus while being close enough to the amenities the City of Cleveland offers.” 

Affordably Going Abroad 

After a short hiatus due to COVID-19, John Carroll’s Center for Global Education once again provides students with various opportunities to study abroad. The aforementioned immersion trips are only one way JCU students can learn outside of the U.S. Hahn says some students study abroad for a semester at a time. She describes the trips as transformational for most students who take advantage, “just seeing their eyes open up at the opportunities that are out there, getting that exposure, even if it is only a week, or igniting that travel bug and international curiosity is priceless,” she says. Hahn is emphatic that the experience of international travel is accessible as a college student. “Taking advantage of international travel while in college is important because life happens - you get into a career, you get married, you have kids, then living abroad for four months is no longer an option.”

In addition to a less demanding schedule, the cost of traveling abroad as a student is much more affordable than traditional travel. JCU has housing partnerships with other universities overseas, which makes living expenses economical for those in the program. Students and parents interested in JCU’s study abroad programs can reach out to the Center for Global Education via email here.