As part of its efforts to grant students a holistic education, the American University in Cairo (AUC) offered students an interactively international finance course in the 2017 Spring Semester.
Internationalization has always been central for the AUC School of Business and is embedded in its management and activities. Today’s globalized world has, after all, made international exposure one of the constant tenants for business success.
In recent times, the school’s efforts to grant students such tools for success to develop their perception beyond the classroom has expanded to encompass a range of innovative initiatives and alliances. Organizing collaborative classes with internationally renowned universities is one solution that the School has invested in. The results thus far have been noticeably encouraging.
A chief example of such resourcefulness came during the 2017 Spring Semester. Assistant Professor in the Department of Management, Neveen Ahmed, utilized the Stevens Initiative — an international effort to build global bridges between students in the Middle East and the United States — to arrange a collaborative online international learning experience in collaboration with Associate Professor Emre Ozsoz from the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) at the State University of New York (SUNY).
The organizational structure of the collaboration was simple: For seven weeks during the semester, the classes of Ahmed and Ozsoz were joined through a common syllabus.
“We wanted to give students an international experience without adding any cost of travel. Our joint class with FIT was a fun, innovative and useful way for students to bridge the cultural gap across continents,” Ahmed outlined.
Students engaged in ice-breaking activities for the first two weeks; then, they were each given partners from the other university and tasked to test the purchasing power parity theory. Unsurprisingly, globalized economies were a prominent theme in the assignment. Students needed to collect prices on common products in both countries, before comparing rates while factoring in foreign exchange to determine whether currencies are undervalued or overvalued as well as discuss the reasons behind any differences that they found.
On the whole, students seemed to enjoy the interactive and collaborative nature of the exercise. “The class was very interesting and the syllabus was completely new to me,” reflected AUC accounting student, Sara Elhusseiny. “I think that this collaboration with FIT was a really smart idea. The structure really added a lot to the course.”
Her views were shared by AUC economics and finance double-majoring student, Maha Rashied, who stated: “I think the experience was very rich and gave a sense of understanding to people who never had a chance to travel or experience prices abroad. It also opened an eye to changes in living standards and purchasing power parity.”
Looking ahead, although the collaboration required more work and preparation than most other classes, Ahmed remains excited at the prospect of collaborating again with Ozsoz next spring.
While the course wasn’t without its hiccups — a few students found difficulty in communicating with their partners abroad given the time difference for instance — all parties involved seemed to indicate that it was a considerable success. Judging by the announced internationalization efforts for the upcoming Fall 2017 Semester, it likely won’t be the AUC School of Business’s last. The school seems intent on using the cards that it is dealt to craft an optimum deck for its students.