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International Travel Connects Graduate Classwork to the Real World
Global Research Practicum

Nearly 30 students from the University of Pittsburgh’s Joseph M. Katz Graduate School of Business spent the 2023 spring break in Germany or Argentina for their Global Research Practicum course.

This was more than just a trip; these travels are designed as integral parts of these courses, as part of the Katz commitment to experiential learning. Built thematically and led by faculty, these international experiences enabled full-time MBA, part-time MBA, and Master of Science students to research a business topic from a global lens. A group of Executive MBA students also visited Germany to research trends in the automotive industry.

Students Visit Germany to Examine ESG Reporting

Associate Professor Elise Boyas’ course examines Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) reporting in Germany and how it compares to the United States. Throughout the week in March, students learned the various reporting standards, the difference between company controlled or consequential Scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions as well as how to make a company’s procurement strategy more sustainable.

Grad student Askadhea Pranata will graduate this spring with his MBA with Business Analytics degree and considered the visit to W.L. Gore, a global materials science company, to be one of the highlights of the trip.  “They explained how their company implements ESG in their operational activities in detail and not just theory,” he says. “I think W.L. Gore was the best company to visit because I got a lot of ESG knowledge which is easy to understand and personally will be very useful in my career.”

The students also met with executives at Audi, H&Z Management Consulting,, SAP.iO, PwC, and Kitekraft and attended a lecture at the University of Augsburg.

Eric Stoller, a graduate fellow in the Center for Sustainable Business, is pursuing his MBA in the part-time program and will graduate later this year. He says the trip will help him professionally. “Our hosts also generously offered and encouraged us to follow up with them regarding the topics we studied and about career opportunities. On an intellectual level, the trip substantially deepened my knowledge of ESG measurement and reporting.”

Students Visit Argentina to Study a Challenging Macroeconomic Environment

Associate Professor Ahmed Elshahat’s graduate course focuses on the challenging macroeconomic environment of Argentina. Despite the news regarding high inflation and a difficult labor market, the students were exposed to the thriving innovation sector in Argentina while in Buenos Aries.

Mike Ramer, who graduates with his MBA this summer, currently works at ATI, a specialty metals company. The site visit to Tenaris exposed him to how a metal manufacturer operates in another country.

“This trip has been the highlight of my MBA program,” he says.” The depth and breadth of the topics covered, and the range of businesses is something I haven’t experienced during my 11 years of professional experience.”

While in Buenos Aries, the students met with the U.S. Ambassador to Argentina Marc Stanley, and in addition to visiting Tenaris, they also toured Toyota Argentina and met with executives from PPG, Pampa Energiaʹ, IRSA, Microcréditos Banco Ciudad, Citibank, CREA (Argentine Association of Regional Consortiums for Agricultural Experimentation), Fintech Chamber of Argentina, and Globant.

“This trip has given me a broader global perspective which, in today’s increasingly global workforce, I know will be valuable to any company or role I have in the future,” says Julianna Rohac, who will graduate with her MBA this fall.

Final Project Connects Travel to Learning Outcomes

In addition to the faculty members, Laura Oknefski, director of graduate programs, and William McShane, associate director for integrated learning, accompanied the students to Germany. Lynn Rosen, associate director for Master of Science programs traveled with the students to Argentina. The trips also included a few students from Pitt’s Graduate School of Public and International Affairs.

 Over the course of the semester, students complete several academic assignments, including a research paper related to the theme of the course. These deep dives enable students to sharpen their critical thinking and written communication skills as they analyze their chosen topic. Additional assignments enhance the professional development the program.

“These short, reflective assignments are designed to help students not only think deeper about the experiences but also articulate the learning outcomes in a way that is meaningful to employers,” says McShane. These assignments culminate in a video pitch in which students provide a short, concise summary of their experience to their class. “

Staff from Philanthropic and Alumni Engagement and European Students Center along with colleagues from the University Center for International Studies helped enhance this program.