In addition to term-long global exchange programs, Darden offers students the opportunity to travel around the world with their classmates and faculty for one- to two- week periods in March and May.
Global Field Experiences (GFEs) are MBA electives that give small teams of students the opportunity to provide consulting services to an international company or organization while working closely with a Darden faculty member. GFEs are frequently mission-driven with a focus on areas such as sustainability, education or renewable energy. TriplePundit recently published an article discussing four recent Darden GFEs — World Bicycle Relief in Zambia, INASante in Tunisia, Freeset Global in India, and Rotary Club of Calapan City and Baruyan in the Philippines.
Global Business Experiences (GBEs) are different from GFEs since the learning experience centers around a business theme rather than consulting with an individual company. Each course includes structured classes and practitioner presentations as well as visits to companies, governmental agencies and important cultural sites. Several GBEs also include an experiential consulting project with companies in the country being visited.
This year, GBEs were offered in Brazil, China, Turkey, Spain, South Africa, Argentina, Israel and Sweden, focusing on themes that included “Business Growth in Developing Countries,” “Wine Industry Exploration,” and “Sustainability, Innovation and Entrepreneurship.”
In the guest post below, Darden Partner Fareine Benz describes her experience in Barcelona, Spain with Darden MBA students and alumni taking Professor Jeanne Lietdka’s GBE course “Strategy as Design.”
“The closeness and accessibility of Darden’s community extends beyond student clubs and social events, and into the academic environment. As a Darden partner, I have been pleasantly surprised at the endless opportunities I’ve had to be involved in the Darden experience.
This past March, another Darden Partner and I joined over 20 Darden MBA students, 2 MBA alumni and an EMBA alumnus on a Global Business Experience to Barcelona. During the weeklong experience, we were fully immersed in participating in classroom discussions, visiting prominent cultural landmarks, and learning about how the strategic design process shaped the history of Barcelona.
Each morning, we spent time in small groups discussing the assigned readings over a cup of coffee before diving into the class discussion. Topics we covered included the design process that went into city planning and architecture, the tension that occurs among different stakeholders throughout the design process, and the impact that creativity and innovation has on business.
After lunch, we explored Barcelona and the surrounding region to see the impact that design had on the city and its culture. Our visits included a walk through Eixample, a modernista neighborhood built in the 19th century to accommodate the Old City’s expansion; touring Antoni Gaudi’s La Sagrada Familia, Park Guell, and Casa Batllo; and driving along the Costa Brava to visit Salvador Dali’s Mediterranean seaside home.
However, one of the biggest highlights of the GBE was being able to bond with all the students and alumni on the trip. After a day of classes and cultural excursions, Dana Niedzielska (MBA ’97) invited the class to her home sitting atop of Tibidabo for a small gathering in which we were able to watch the sun set over the city while enjoying Spanish wine and local cheese.
Although the GBE schedule was typically packed with activities each day, we still had enough time to watch a football game at Club Nou, dine at el Bulli chef Ferran Adria’s new restaurant 41 Degrees, and take a stroll through Las Ramblas.
The fact that Darden opens these global opportunities up to alumni, staff and partners is a testament to the inclusiveness of the community. Through these global courses, students are able to take what they learn in class through the case study method and apply those lessons internationally in real time.”