Dordt College News

Business adds international emphasis

January 15, 2010

A number of Dordt College business graduates currently work in international business, among them one of the college board members, Deb Broek, who, along with her husband, is based in Zurich, Switzerland.

A Dordt business major has always given business administration graduates a foundation for going into business on an international scale.

So why add an emphasis? World economies are increasingly interdependent. Many companies today depend on international markets and supplies. An international business emphasis tells employers looking at a graduate’s resume that he or she has thought about and prepared to work in the international community. It also ensures that such business majors have taken the broad base of courses that should help them better navigate the unique challenges of working with other cultures and environments.

Milt Kuyers was one of seven Christian business persons who spoke to students in Professor Dale Zevenbergen’s marketing class this semester.

Senior Andrew Sybesma is very interested in international business. “I realized early in mycollege career that the world is a small place and that I will be competing with more people across the world than any other generation before me. Although this is a bit daunting, I consider working internationally to be an exciting opportunity to see new parts of the world and experience other cultures and traditions.”

Junior Kimberly Hoekstra’s interest in international business was sparked by her father’s involvement. “I find it intriguing how an organization has to integrate all aspects of the cultures it works with into the different products or services it chooses to sell,” she says.

The department has spelled out three specific goals for the new emphasis:
• Better equip students to work as Christian stewards and servants in a global environment
• Help students see the economic needs of people in second and third world economies
• Help students begin to articulate a Christian vision of personal stewardship and service as it relates to international business.

Several Dordt College business faculty members have experience to share with their students. Dr. John Visser and Dr. Gary Vander Plaats have, for many years, taught business to international business people and students through organizations such as LEAD (Leadership Enterprise for Asian Development) and Eastern University’s Organizational Leadership Program. Current economics professor Namsuk Choi, a native of Korea, brings an international presence to the classroom. Students have participated in international business opportunities through the SPICE program (Studies Program in Contemporary Europe), the Latin America Studies Program, the China Studies Program, the International Business Institute, and the Nehemiah Center in Nicaragua.

An obvious reason to add the emphasis is that it’s easy to do. The emphasis repackages courses already taught, which together will provide a strong foundation for those interested in international business. In addition to a course in international business, students who wish to earn the emphasis will take a course in economic development in low income countries, a course in international relations, a non-western history course, a course in missions, foreign language or cross-cultural communication, and an international off-campus experience. A special topics course in international economics has been taught several times in the past and may be offered again.

“I would have taken this emphasis,” says Sybesma. “Last summer I traveled with the International Business Institute throughout Europe and was able to experience the business environment in Western and Eastern Europe. It was an unbelievable experience, and I wish I would have been able to better coordinate my academic work at Dordt with the work that I did there.” 

“If this emphasis had been in place when I began my course studies, I would have chosen to take it or at least pick up some of the classes offered,” says Hoekstra  

“Our proposed program includes more courses and offers more breadth than those at institutions similar to us—if they offer such a program,” says Business Department Chair Art Attema.

“We hope making this emphasis available will better appeal to and serve students, as well as raise visibility for international business,” adds Attema, noting that high school students often like programs with a specific focus. For his part, Attema is happy when students get the opportunity to take courses across a variety of disciplines, whatever their program, so that they leave college with both specific and broad-based preparation.


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