Eight Haslam College of Business students learned how culture and politics affect economics during a study abroad program in Germany this summer. The session included two advanced courses related to Haslam’s full-time MBA curriculum and was led by faculty members Bill Neilson, Marianne Wanamaker and Georg Schaur.
“The students are spending the month in Freiburg, where they are living in dorms,” Neilson said. “All of them have European flat-mates.” These living conditions are intended to give students a broader perspective on German life and culture.
Clay Daniel, a rising junior studying supply chain management and business analytics, found the accommodations reflect his impressions of German culture in general.
“Until you truly get to know a person, there is a very formal boundary between you,” Daniel said. “If conversations happen, that’s cool, but there doesn’t seem to be any drive to start those conversations. On the other hand, the conversations I have had with the people I live with have been very kind.”
Understanding this reticence was particularly important when students interviewed Germans on the street as part of an economic experiment. “We had to go out into town and present random people with a choice that measured their willingness to take risks,” Daniel said. “I thought that it was a great opportunity. I also learned that I like this branch of economics more so than others.”
Students gained perspective on international business by visiting Mercedes-Benz in Stuttgart, Germany, and the pharmaceutical company Novartis in Basel, Switzerland. The European Union Parliament and FutureCamp Climate, an emissions trading business, provided comparisons to political issues in the United States.