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Global Classroom: Understanding work environments across cultures

June 11, 2015

Dr. Simone Schlichting-Artur, German professor, expertly translates her research into courses that encourage diverse groups of students to reflect on their academic and professional experiences. Her research focuses on developing leadership strategies in multicultural learning and work environments, and her course, Writing on Work Identity, fits perfectly with the Global Classroom program, managed by Drexel University’s Office of International Programs.


Global Classrooms are courses that engage Drexel students with students at a partner university abroad through a range of interactive technologies. These courses allow students to have an international, intercultural experience without ever leaving campus.


Schlichting-Artur’s Global Classroom is a collaboration with Prof. Jian Hua Su, a language professor from Nankai University in Philadelphia’s sister city, Tianjin, China. The course, COM380: Writing on Work Identity, is designed for students currently on co-op or with previous professional experience to reflect on their occupational cross-cultural experiences. The class was taught in both AY 12-13, 14-15; The fall 2014 section included 18 Drexel students and 20 from Nankai. It challenged students to observe their work environments and utilize their class readings to better understand how workplace relations are interpreted and function through the lenses of race, culture, and gender.


Drexel students were required to have had at least one co-op experience before taking the course, and Nankai students were to have completed an internship. This pre-requisite gave students a framework for applying the readings on topics such as intercultural communication, power dynamics in an office, leadership styles at work, and high/low context cultures. According to Schlichting-Artur, many students noted that the class gave them the opportunity to rethink and reflect upon their co-op or internship experiences more deeply.


Because of the 12-hour time difference, students did not interact via video or voice technology, but that didn’t hamper their opportunities to learn from one another. Each week, students would turn in two assignments – one that went directly to the professors and one, posted on a discussion board via Learn. After the discussion posts had been shared, Drexel and Nankai students were paired up and each week would react to each other’s work.


Prof. Su said that the course gave his students new perspectives into cultural issues, and said they learned not only from the assigned materials but also from the group discussions. The course could help prepare his students for continuing their education in the US, as well.


This kind of interaction is what defines a global classroom: engaging Drexel students with students at one of our partner universities abroad through interactive technologies.