George Fox Journal Cover George Fox Journal - The Magazine of George Fox University | Fall 2008, Volume 4 Number 2

Connecting Cultures

A Global Orientation

The university’s blossoming relationship with China has roots that go back almost three decades.

George Fox’s worldview is expanding. The university ranks among the nation’s top 40 schools in study-abroad participation. Faculty annually lead students on study trips that reach every continent but Antarctica. International student enrollment is at an all-time high.

For decades, China has held a prominent position in the university’s efforts to provide a global education. When the Chinese communist government began opening its country to the West, professor Arthur Roberts led a 1981 student trip to seven Chinese cities for the university’s second-ever study-abroad trip. Four years later, group members helped their Chinese guide, Shu-Guo Diao, enroll at George Fox. She graduated in 1988 and went on to earn a master’s degree at Rice University.

Chinese street vendorsStreet vendors in China

Since then, about a dozen George Fox professors have taught at universities in China, including former music professor Dennis Hagen. Hagen taught English at Wuhan University of Technology in central China during the summer of 1990 and became an active ambassador for the university. He led the university’s concert band on a 1999 Chinese performance tour and recruited many Americans to take teaching assignments in China. Hagen and his wife spent seven summers and more than four years teaching and writing lesson materials. More than 100,000 copies were printed of his 10 textbooks.

Hagen shared his faith with many, including fellow English professor Thomas Peng, who today is the university’s director of China and East Asia programs. Hagen’s work sparked the creation of two scholar-exchange programs. In the last two decades, nearly 50 Chinese professors have come to campus to observe classes and teach.

George Fox students have studied in China since the 1980s. Most undergraduates go with the Best Semester China Studies program or the university’s three-week faculty-led Juniors Abroad program. This fall, two students are spending a semester in Hong Kong and Xiamen.

With the world’s fastest growing economy, China is also a prime destination for business students. In the last year and a half, more than 90 graduate students from the George Fox School of Management have traveled to study international business in Shanghai. A requirement for doctor of business administration students, the study trips are also an option for students in the university’s MBA programs. Visits are arranged to multinational companies such as Hewlett-Packard and Coca Cola as well as Chinese companies. Students also conduct their own research projects. More trips are planned.

Group photo at Black & DeckerGroup photo at Black & Decker

A global timeline

1976 – University concert band performs concert tour in Western Europe

1980 – Professors Lee Nash and Julie Hobbs lead first university study trip to Western Europe

1983 – International studies major created

1986 – Center for Peace Learning sends faculty and student group to work in a reforestation project in Haiti, the first of several trips to Haiti, Central America and The Philippines.

1986 – First semester-abroad program (Latin American Studies) offered to students.

1987 – English Language Institute established to help prepare international students for traditional courses

1987 – Juniors Abroad started, offering third-year students subsidized three-week study tours led by faculty

2004 – School of Management offers international study trips to graduate students.

Chinese street vendorsStreet vendors in China

Studying in Shanghai

Shanghai is the fastest-growing city in the country with the world’s fastest-growing economy. The city provides a working laboratory for George Fox School of Management students to pursue individual research, visit Chinese and multinational companies, learn from guest speakers and experience another culture.  

Since 2007, more than 90 graduate students from George Fox have participated in week-long residencies in Shanghai, China. Students come from the university’s MBA and the doctor of business administration programs.

Research topics included subjects ranging from intellectual property to environmentalism to spirituality in the workplace. Doctoral students produced manuscripts for submission to peer-reviewed academic journals such as the International Journal of Applied Management and the Journal of Business Ethics.

Group photo at SMICGroup photo at SMIC

A wide variety of companies host the students, including multinationals Hewlett-Packard, Coca Cola, Black & Decker and semiconductor manufacturer SMIC, as well as Chinese companies such as steel manufacturer Bao Steel and the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC) the country’s largest national bank. These visits lay the foundation for a more extensive learning experience that continues into the sidewalks, shops and neighborhoods of Shanghai

The international residency has been part of the MBA program since 2004 and a part of the doctor of business administration curriculum since its inception in 2006.

“When you read the headlines and look at where companies in the Pacific Northwest are expanding their business, it is easy to see why China makes sense as a destination for our MBA students.”

Jim Steele
Assistant professor of management

“It’s an indescribable experience to mingle with the people, walk down the street, see the bicycles, see the traffic, see the skyscrapers…it’s a phenomenal atmosphere… mixed in with a lot of western influence, it’s very interesting… the trip has been fabulous.”

Lynnda Sorenson
MBA Executive Track

"After my time in China, my mind opened up to the possibility of spending more time in Asia after I graduate.  One thing this trip did was shifted my personal boundaries that I had set up for myself. I never imagined that I could work in a foreign country and after hearing testimonies of other business people working abroad, it fascinates me."              

Aimee Peterson
MBA Professional Track

“If your business is in any way touched by the globalism and the opportunities that are happening in China, you need to go there and meet the people and learn the differences in cultures to be prepared to interact with that.  I did business for three years by telephone call with companies in China and thought I had a pretty good handle on the cultural differences and I didn’t have a clue.  I got there and studied more closely and met people and found out that it was far more complex than I realized.  And it has already translated into better relationships with vendors that I do business with in China.”

Tom Scott
MBA Executive Track

"I cannot stress enough how much this has changed the way I look at things and think about what could be, rather that what is today.  One interesting thing for me was that I realized upon getting back to work on Tuesday that there is so much more that I could be doing.  Not having traveled internationally, I now know that I need to do more of it!  Maybe, I should even consider moving somewhere for a while to experience another culture in depth and get out of my comfort zone."  

 Jarrod Hosley
MBA Professional Track

Marlo and Yoonsook

“It was interesting to reflect on my experience and perceptions. I learned a lot from our brief journey and will continue to watch China’s evolution closely. It’s great to have a more personal connection with the country now. I hope to go back someday and see Beijing and perhaps other parts of China.

Marlo Haring-Barnum
MBA Professional Track

“I can't imagine learning about global business in any other way than traveling to experience it first hand.  The hands-on experience allowed me to make connections that I don't think I would have made from a book.”

    Josh Wilson
MBA Professional Track

“Being in a predominantly non-English speaking, non-democratic, rapidly developing country provided the opportunity to compress a wealth of experiential learning into one week, lessons that would have taken months to teach in a classroom -- and even then, not as effectively.”

Dr. Alan Kluge
Professor of Business

Jim Steele and Amber Russell contributed to this story.


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