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Faculty Q&A: Laura Meade Invites Students to Expand their Cultural Understanding by Going Global

As fast-growing technology continues to connect our world, it becomes more crucial that students engage globally. Laura Meade, director of Neeley International Programs and a professor of supply chain practice, shares insight on the global skills taught in Neeley and how they are elevated through study abroad experiences.

July 18, 2023

Why is it so important that students expand their cultural awareness, and how does studying abroad support this concept?
The mission statement of TCU is to “educate individuals to think and act as ethical leaders and responsible citizens in the global community” Neeley believes cultural awareness is pivotal in developing future leaders and now requires all undergraduates to complete a course called “Global Business with an Ethical Lens”. This course is offered in both the traditional classroom semester long format, in the classroom 8wk1 with study abroad over spring break and summer study abroad format. One of the significant learning objectives is for students to become comfortable interacting with others who are different from themselves. Studying abroad is an excellent opportunity to expand cultural awareness as students are able to interact and learn from business leaders in different countries.

Which countries are included in the TCU Neeley study abroad program?
COVID-19 changed the initial rules of international travel and, at first, we were only able to explore Europe. Our European faculty-led programs now include Italy, Germany, England, Brussels, France, Spain and Portugal. We are also now expanding our reach outside of Europe and venturing back to South Africa, Vietnam, Brazil and Chile.

When and how can students apply to study abroad?
Undergrad students may participate in Neeley faculty-led programs as early as the summer after their freshman year. TCU Global offers semester abroad programs with not only “TCU-IN” selected universities but also with other providers that Neeley students usually participate in during their junior year. A list of business courses that count towards a student’s degree program have been pre-approved by Neeley faculty and advisors to ensure students do not loose time in their studies while wanting to study abroad. Neeley would like to see every student have the opportunity to participate in some type of study abroad program. At the graduate level students may participate as early as their second semester as a student.

How does TCU Neeley financially support students with the cost to study abroad?
There are a variety of scholarships available to Neeley students through TCU Global and the university. There is also a small Neeley endowment that is designated for business students travelling abroad. As a creative solution to the summer tuition additional expense, Neeley offers programs to undergraduates in the second semester combining classroom learning with study abroad experience over spring break. The block tuition per semester ensures that students do not have to pay for the additional credits as they would during a summer session. If a student elects to study abroad for a semester all their scholarships from TCU stay in place. At the graduate level students only pay a third of the program fee for their study abroad experience as a portion of their graduate fees is allocated to study abroad.

What sort of feedback do you receive from students after they’ve studied abroad?
This is the absolute best part about taking students abroad. The growth and learning that comes from being immersed in a different culture is amazing to watch. Students return saying they had a life-changing experience and that they will be friends forever with their fellow classmates. They share that they’ve broadened their horizons and been challenged in ways they never imagined.

How does studying abroad provide a student’s understanding of a career in business?
All of Neeley’s faculty-led study abroad programs focus on business and the student’s ability to navigate in a different cultural setting. Students are asked to complete an individual cultural agility assessment and they decide which competencies they would like to develop within themselves during their study abroad experience and complete reflections after the travel portion of the course. Some of the faculty-led programs include a consulting project for an international company where Neeley students work on a current business issue and then present the results to the company.

Is there anything else you’d like to add the Neeley study abroad program and the importance of the global experience?
There are many “seasons of life” and the season of pursuing an academic credential is a time to learn and grow and one of the most impactful ways to do this is through a study abroad program. Students not only learn more about an international business culture they learn more about themselves and how to work with a variety of perspectives.

Photo: Laura Meade

Laura Meade

Professor of Supply Chain Practice
Director of International Business Programs
Information Systems and Supply Chain Management Department

Neeley 3250