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Students spend summer immersed in Chinese business, culture

by Shannon Chapla, Office of News & Information

August 17, 2009


The University of Notre Dame’s newest summer program “is a beautiful example of interdisciplinarity, Notre Dame’s commitment to Asia initiatives and the transformative role of study abroad,” said Vice President and Associate Provost Dennis Jacobs.

“Culture and Business in China Today” was offered for the first time in May and June for 12 Notre Dame undergraduate business and economics students who spent one week in Taiwan and Hong Kong, two weeks in Shanghai and two weeks in Beijing.

Designed to provide students with the opportunity to explore, experience and examine business and culture in China, the course offered presentations by guest professors and business leaders, as well as visits to both international and Chinese companies and historic and cultural sites.

The students—10 business majors and two economics majors—were enrolled in two courses: “Business in China Today,” taught by Georges Enderle, the John T. Ryan Professor of International Business Ethics; and “Culture in China Today,” taught by Jonathan Noble, Asia Initiatives advisor. Students visited 20 companies, including major multinationals such as Kraft, and leading Chinese companies, including Fuda, Baosteel and C-Trip.

“Students had the unique opportunity to compare similarities and differences between the four mega-cities,” Noble said. “In addition to providing the immersive environment that encouraged students to interact directly with business and cultural leaders, the courses focused on academic themes, including business ethics and the intersection of politics, business and culture in media and film.”

“Business in China Today” was based at the Antai College of Economics and Management at Shanghai Jiao Tong University, one of China’s leading business schools. The course explored how Chinese, joint venture and foreign companies operate in China.

For “Culture in China Today,” the students studied and reflected upon the ways in which culture intersects with business. In particular, the course examined business entities linked to the production and consumption of art, advertising, film, television, the Internet, music, sports and food as a foundation for analysis of how culture is packaged and marketed for domestic and global consumption.

The students visited major cultural sites, including the Palace Museum in Taipei, the first meeting place of the Chinese Communist Party in Shanghai, and the Great Wall and Forbidden City in Beijing. They also met with leading Chinese director Li Yang and journalists from China’s Global Times, Reuters and the South China Morning Post. The U.S. Embassy in Beijing hosted a meeting with the group, and the students also were able to attend Mass in two of China’s most famous cathedrals, Xujiahui in Shanghai and the South Cathedral in Beijing.

In addition to Shanghai Jiao Tong University, the program was facilitated by Yuan Ze University in Taiwan, the Chinese University of Hong Kong and the Beijing Center at the University of International Business and Economics.

Notre Dame Trustee Douglas Hsu, chairman of Far Eastern Group and the board of trustees of Yuan Ze University, helped launch the program through the endowment in his name, and Notre Dame alumni hosted the students at corporate visits and dinners with the Notre Dame clubs in the four cities.

Offered through Notre Dame’s Office of International Studies, “Culture and Business in China Today” joins the University’s other study-abroad programs in China, including the intensive summer program in Chinese at Fu Jen Catholic University in Taiwan and semester and academic study-abroad programs in Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong. The MBA and Executive Education programs in the Mendoza College of Business also organize China study tours.