AU colleges collaborate for federal grant

AUBURN – Faculty in Auburn University’s College of Business and College of Liberal Arts received a two-year grant of approximately $250, 000 under the U.S. Department of Education’s Title VI Business and International Education Program for the proposal “Advancing Trade with Latin America.”

The project, with a focus of fostering international trade between the State of Alabama and Latin America, is a collaboration between Paula Bobrowski, associate dean for research and faculty development in the College of Liberal Arts, and Beverly Marshall, associate professor of finance in the College of Business.

“Global and international issues are not discipline-specific and should not be taught in silos,” said Bobrowski. “We are fortunate that the deans of both colleges recognize the importance of interdepartmental collaboration and encourage their faculty to work together to achieve a common goal. It is important to prepare our constituents for the complexities of globalization.”

“Creating opportunities to position the College of Liberal Arts for the future is critical,” said Anna Gramberg, dean of the College of Liberal Arts. “Establishing an interactive global environment for our students is of the utmost importance to us. This grant allows new relationships to take place and grow in an academic world as well as in a world of commerce, thus creating a unique and beneficial opportunity for everyone involved.”

The grant will support three major initiatives. The first, designed to create faculty awareness of the social, political, economic and business environments in Latin America, will roll out this fall and will include trade missions to key destinations for Alabama exports, language immersion programs, and seminars and conferences on international trade issues.

“In addition to the collaboration between business and liberal arts, we have partnered with Tuskegee University and the State of Alabama Development Office International Trade Division to expand the project beyond the university community,” said Marshall. “Participating faculty will be a resource not only to their own campuses, but also to community colleges throughout the state and to non-traditional student populations.”

A second initiative will focus on student programs and academic enrichment. Neither the College of Business nor the College of Liberal Arts has a program that focuses on Latin America specifically. With the grant, both the international business curriculum in the College of Business and the international trade curriculum in the College of Liberal Arts will be restructured to provide undergraduate and graduates courses in export management as well as courses on Latin American society and culture. The grant will also be used to develop an international trade certificate program designed for students not enrolled in either curriculum. Such curricular changes are expected to be implemented in 2009.

“We would be remiss if we did not prepare students for the global economy,” said Marshall. “Unfortunately, there is sometimes a misconception that international trade negatively impacts state and local business. The reality is that companies engaged in international business actually yield economic growth. We need to prepare our students to enter today’s global workforce.”

“Initiatives such as this that create cross-disciplinary, international opportunities for our students are an AU response to the private sector requirements for the 21st century university graduate,” said Paul Bobrowski, dean of the College of Business and Wachovia Professor. “I hope that this type of collaborative, international effort becomes an Auburn University standard.”

A third initiative targets the state and local business community. In coordination with Tuskegee University, the State of Alabama Development Office, the Auburn University Small Business Development Center and the Auburn Technical Assistance Center, project co-directors will develop outreach programs designed to encourage and facilitate trade with Latin America. A series of community seminars are expected to be available by fall 2008.

For more information about the Department of Education’s Title VI Business and International Education Program, go to http://www.docp.wright.edu/bie/ .
(Contributed by Dina Roberts and Vicky Santos)
Contact:
Dina Roberts, (334) 844-2203 (kaneldi@auburn.edu), or
Mike Clardy, (334) 844-9999 (clardch@auburn.edu)