By: Rick Beitman, Editor-in-Chief
As the new partnership with Arizona State University takes Thunderbird School of Global Management in new directions, naturally one of the most integral changes would be the introduction of new programs.
The Master of Global Management (MGM) replaces the Global MBA as the flagship program and will be akin to the Masters of International Management (MIM), which preceded the MBA at Thunderbird. The Master of Arts in Global Affairs & Management (MAGAM) rounds out the graduate programs that will be offered starting Fall 2015. In addition to these, a host of dual degree programs are being developed between Thunderbird and other schools at ASU. – However, perhaps the most intriguing and innovative new program is the development of an undergraduate curriculum, the Bachelors of Global Management (BGM).
According to the Academic Director of the BGM program, Dr. Roy Nelson, development of the BGM began almost immediately after the transaction between Thunderbird and ASU closed. It will be a 4-year degree that is offered by Thunderbird but delivered at the nearby ASU West campus. This arrangement allows the Thunderbird campus to remain exclusively for graduate students while BGM scholars will attend classes at ASU West, which is dominated by undergraduates.
Dr. Nelson believes that the BGM gets back to the ‘original concept’ of Thunderbird as it has a strong focus on foreign language as well as principles of global management. The first two years will include general education courses and the latter half will focus on coursework delivered by Thunderbird faculty. – Dr. Nelson says it is intended to be an ‘immersive experience’.
The linguistic component of the BGM is crucial to the program. According to Thunderbird Registrar James Scott, there will be eight terms of language spanning all four years. Languages offered will include Arabic, Chinese, and Spanish, as well as English for non-native speakers. Other languages may be added, depending on the demand. Dr. Nelson hopes Portuguese will be added at some point. – The goal is to create living and learning communities. The intent is to reserve sections or floors in the dorms at ASU West that will be dedicated to a particular language to promote immersion. Likewise, cohorts will also be based on language. Dr. Nelson believes this will create a ‘real international experience that some people crave.’ The hope is that students will emerge with practical fluency. Dr. Nelson joked, “It won’t be teaching Medieval Spanish literature.”
Apart from language, global business coursework would include Regional Business Environment courses, and primary states & markets. The capstone would be a required international internship (provided by ASU) that will occur later in the program as well as a global field project. – And, like on the Thunderbird campus, the BGM community will also get to experience cultural events.
Hailing it as a ‘unique program’, Dr. Nelson says, “I would have done [the BGM] myself,” if he had had the opportunity. He also acknowledges that it was not possible until now to offer a new undergraduate program, as Thunderbird did not have the resources to offer general education courses before. Now, with the resources of a university with the scope of ASU, the possibility for the expansion of Thunderbird programs is unprecedented. – Nelson stated that ASU President Dr. Crow was eager to kick the program off for Fall 2015. While it may start small, the goal is to eventually have 200 entrants to the program each year.
While news of the BGM is exciting, an undergraduate program offered by Thunderbird is not a novelty. – Some may be unaware, but historically, Thunderbird did offer undergraduate degrees in its early years. The school formerly offered a Bachelors of Foreign Trade (BFT) and later a Bachelors of International Management (BIM). However, it did work differently back then. Students were expected to have already obtained a bachelors degree elsewhere before getting a second degree at Thunderbird in what then was a very unique niche.
The BGM offers many benefits to potential students and, while the details have not been finalized, BGM candidates may be able to transition to a graduate program at the Thunderbird campus following graduation. – According to Nelson, the BGM leverages the ‘complementary’ nature of both institutions. Dr. Nelson is not the only one raving as he says the Dean of ASU West is ‘very enthusiastic’ about this opportunity. – The program is expected to be popular and over 50% of its student body is projected to come from outside the U.S. Dr. Nelson cannot help but be confident:
“I think it’s going to be a great program that only enhances [our] international reputation and will be a source of pride. It’s getting back to the roots of what Thunderbird is all about.”