University News

Corporate Social Responsibility Students from WIU, Abroad Meet

April 20, 2007

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MACOMB, IL -- Technology is bridging the gap between cultures in the business world.

Students and faculty from Western Illinois University and University of Vermont, Mexico's Universidad Autonoma de Queretaro and Universidad Panamericana, and Canada's Universite de Sherbrooke and Universite de Moncton met for the first time in Chicago earlier this semester after working together via the Internet during Fall 2006 as part of the "Tri-National Competencies Across Borders and Corporate Social Responsibility" management class offered through Western's management department.

"The most memorable part of the conference was actually meeting the people that you had been
E-mailing for an entire semester," said Dorian Young, WIU graduate communication student from Dolton (IL). "I remember sitting down and literally hearing conversations in English, Spanish and French at the same time, it was amazing!"

According to Steve Axley, WIU management professor and the project director for the tri-national class, the conference allowed participants to discuss their work from Fall 2006, prepare for the Spring 2007 exchange program and discuss summer internship opportunities. Students also participated in various team-building and intercultural experiences. They visited several organizations influential in business and social responsibility issues such as the Chicago Board of Trade, McDonald's Corporation corporate office and the Chicago Center for Green Technology.

"I enjoyed learning about the new ideas and concepts that the Chicago government agencies are doing to make it a 'green city,' like buildings with green roofs," said Rigoberto Arias, a senior management major student attending WIU from Queretaro, Mexico.

During Fall 2006 virtual teams were formed, comprised of students from Canada, Mexico and the U.S. The teams work through virtual assignments ranging from team development to various case analyses dealing with corporate social responsibility. At the start of the Spring 2007 semester, each student began his/her coursework at another participating university.

"We have overlaid the existing virtual teams with the 'campus teams' at each university where exchange students are studying," Axley said. "These campus teams are now completing local fieldwork on issues of corporate social responsibility."

According to the program website, the class allows students to develop competencies necessary for transcending both national and social borders.

"I have learned how important corporate social responsibility is and how it is a partnership between businesses, governments and consumers," said Melissa Yeast, WIU senior agriculture business major from Sciota (IL).

"The type of awareness of corporate action I learned from the class is important especially now when corporate scandals are rampant in our society," added William Reavis, WIU senior business management major from Hinsdale (IL).

Yeast and Reavis both are currently studying at Universidad Panamericana.

"The class has really helped me get involved with the Canadian and American cultures," said Ana Chavez, a senior administration and international business major attending WIU, from Universidad Panamericana. "I've learned how to work with people in different countries who have different ideas, values and skills."

Axley, along with WIU College of Business and Technology Office of Global Education Director Carol Fimmen and Western Management Professors Gordon Rands and Barbara Ribbens, planned and led the Chicago conference. The "Tri-National Competencies Across Borders and Corporate Social Responsibility" class is sponsored in part by the Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education (FIPSE) and the U.S. Department of Education.

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