In today's educational landscape, some of the most interesting opportunities for students are on the boundaries between disciplines and cultures, and the Engaging China initiative at the University of Oregon's Lundquist College of Business is a testament to that fact.
"There are cultural boundaries between different academic disciplines just as there are cultural boundaries between America and China," explained Dean James C. Bean, describing how the initiative enhances the college's interdisciplinary commitment. "Just as the M.B.A. students' trip to China exposed them to diverse situations, markets, and cultures, so to is interdisciplinary collaboration across the university broadening the college's worldview," he continued.
In fact, the Engaging China initiative is a superb example of interdisciplinary collaboration. The Lundquist College partnered with the UO Center for Asian and Pacific Studies (CAPS) to secure a two-year U.S. Department of Education grant to help launch the initiative (see related story above), and that collaboration has already yielded tremendous benefits to the college, students, the university, and the business community.
"The Engaging China initiative has provided an opportunity for the college to play an intermediary role to show businesses in the state the importance of the liberal arts core of the university," noted Bean. "It's shown students first hand how an interdisciplinary education can help them become more effective business professionals. And it's helping business faculty better incorporate interdisciplinary and cross-cultural issues into their courses."
CAPS has similarly found the interdisciplinary venture beneficial. "Dean Bean had the vision to see that our partnership would be an important and productive enterprise, and we will definitely look to the Engaging China initiative as a model for partnering with other departments and colleges on campus," noted center Director Jeffrey Hanes. "Our partnership is helping to internationalize the business school curriculum, and it has encouraged faculty across campus who specialize in East Asia to think about the many business interests in China and how they can play a role in facilitating those," he elaborated.
Both Bean and Hanes also noted that the Engaging China initiative is a great example of how collaboration helps to break down barriers (or perceived barriers) between the humanities and the professional schools on campus. "The program's first-year success gives us a wonderful foundational model to build upon as we expand and pursue additional interdisciplinary initiatives," summed up Bean.