The College of Business’s Global Consulting Program (GCP) is going to Tokyo in May, thanks to leadership from College of Arts and Sciences professor Chris Thompson and College of Business professor Hao Lou.
Tokyo is one of two new sites for the GCP this year, noted Lou, who is co-director of the Tokyo program with Thompson. Tamarindo, Costa Rica, is also a new location, along with returning sites in Belgium, Brazil, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, and Italy.
“I could not think of a more dynamic duo than Dr. Thomson and Dr. Lou to lead this exciting addition to our lineup of experiential opportunities at the Center for International Business Education and Development,” says CIBED Director Andrew Pueschel. “The benefits of this interdisciplinary leadership collaboration will have lasting positive benefits for the participating students, and or global partner relationship, for years to come.”
Like many of Ohio University’s activities in Japan, this one also traces back to OHIO’s 50-year relationship with Chubu University in the Aichi Prefecture in central Japan. But OHIO’s relationships—both faculty relationships and an extensive in-country alumni network—now extend well beyond Chubu.
Every year since 1973, OHIO and Chubu have exchanged faculty members through a visiting professors program, providing students and professors the unique opportunity of having a truly international learning experience. Faculty members who come to OHIO from Chubu University are called Robert Glidden Visiting Professors. OHIO faculty members who travel to Chubu University are Kohei Miura Visiting Professors – named in honor of the founder of Chubu University.
Thompson, a cultural anthropologist who teaches Japanese in the Linguistics Department in the College of Arts and Sciences, was selected for the visiting professorship in 2018. Lou was on his selection committee, having been an exchange professor several years earlier. So it was natural that Lou would contact Thompson when the College of Business wanted to add a Japan destination to its popular consulting program that prepares students for the challenges of the global business environment.
“Hao actually sought me out as his China destination was being phased out. We talked to Chubu about doing this in Nagoya, but they were lukewarm on it, so with Chubu’s blessing, we contacted Musashi University in Tokyo, where we also send students. Dr. Brian Masshardt at Musashi decided to take us on right away as we would be able to provide our own placement sites using our extensive OHIO alumni network in Japan,” Thompson said.
“Extending the Global Consulting Program to Tokyo is such a great collaboration between the College of Arts and Sciences and the College of Business. We are so excited that OHIO students will benefit from Dr. Thompson’s expertise and research in Japanese language and culture in combination with Dr. Lou’s expertise in global business. With the help of the OHIO alumni network in Japan, our students will engage in a life-changing experience where they can learn from and contribute to bilingual workplaces run by our alumni,” said Sarah Poggione, interim dean of the College of Arts and Sciences.
Placement at alumni workplaces
“I have been involving our OHIO alumni at their workplaces in Tokyo for years, as I developed the Japan Global Engagement Project, once known as the OU-Iwate Prefectural University (IPU) Tsunami Volunteer Project,” Thompson said. In 2011, a magnitude 9 earthquake struck in the Pacific Ocean west of Japan, sending a wall of water more than 100-feet high into some coastal communities. More than 20,000 people died. In addition to hands-on volunteer help, Thompson’s project continues to look at the cultural impact of the disaster and how the communities are recovering, most recently as a group of students and alumni gathered for the 10th year of activity on the weekend of Sept. 24 in Iwate.
“As a cultural anthropologist and as a faculty member in linguistics, I have always been interested in sites where our OHIO students can work in Japan using their OHIO degrees and the Japanese language skills we have been able to teach them. Plus we have OHIO alumni who are Japanese as well, thanks to our exchange programs. So we’re going to place the Tokyo Global Consulting Program students in the workplaces run by OHIO alumni,” said Thompson, who noted that knowledge of Japanese language is not a prerequisite for the Global Consulting Program.
Among the sites where students might be interning are a French restaurant run by two OHIO alumni, an NGO (non-governmental organization) that facilitates interaction between Japanese and residents of Japan from a variety of African countries that is run by an OHIO graduate, and a Japanese event planning firm where a recent OHIO graduate is a sales representative.
“All of these sites were chosen deliberately because they are bilingual work environments where everyone functions in English. Otherwise, it would be impossible to provide a meaningful experience for our students in such a short time,” Thompson noted. Another site is a sports management company connected to the College of Business in Tokyo.
“The alumni ties I have cultivated are the foundation that makes this experiences possible to share with the College of Business and the OHIO campus. It’s no secret that many of the students who study Japanese at OHIO are business majors. And Dr. Lou, who understands the value of these ties and the way in which alumni relations work outside of America, offered me the chance to work with him with his great experiences leading programs in many parts of the world to develop something truly unique,” Thompson said.
A growing presence in Tokyo
Thompson noted that the relationship with Musashi University is not as visible as the Chubu partnership, but it’s just as vibrant.
“Many OHIO faculty and administrators don’t even know the extensive ties that OHIO—especially the Ohio Program of Intensive English (OPIE) and the Linguistics Department—have had with Musashi over the years. I worked with them extensively on a variety of projects, student exchanges, and administrative visits over the years. The College of Business Tokyo GCP is only the latest Japan-related project I’m working on,” Thompson said.
Also, Dr. Charlie Morgan, associate professor of sociology in the College of Arts and Sciences, is on sabbatical in Japan this year. He directs the OU-MU Exchange Program.
Currently, eight OHIO students are on exchange to Japan this semester, four at Chubu and four at Musashi.
For more information about the Center for International Business Education and Development at OHIO’s College of Business, or the Global Consulting Program, contact Puesche at email@example.com.