APU Hosts Universities from Across the Globe in Virtual International Business Colloquium

This fall, Azusa Pacific University’s School of Business and Management hosted five universities from five countries in an International Business (IB) Colloquium. The digital event occurred across seven weeks, with speakers offering TED Talk-style lectures on various topics regarding global business. In addition, each meeting featured breakout workshop sessions, in which students worked together in internationally-diverse teams to analyze and present findings on case studies designed by faculty. Session attendance reached up to 230 students, with more than 1,000 participants in total from APU, Karunya Institute of Technology and Sciences in India, Tunghai University in Taiwan, Union University of California in Vietnam, and LCC International University in Lithuania.

Mark Wm Cawman, DBA, assistant professor, School of Business and Management, co-creator of the IB Colloquium and a featured lecturer for the event, created multiple case studies for students to analyze. Cawman teaches courses in international business, strategic management, and organizational performance. He also serves as the director of APU’s International Business Program and as advisor for APU’s Enactus program and the National Society of Leadership and Success. Prior to APU, Cawman spent 26 years in senior management roles in the automotive and aerospace industries.

“Throughout the pandemic, I was looking for a way to get my students real and practical international business experience,” said Cawman. “Through work with one of my colleagues at Karunya, we designed a one-night international business event. After immensely positive feedback from students and faculty, we decided to build upon this, inviting more international schools and speakers, and designing more curriculum for a larger-scale conference.”

From this initial design, the colloquium expanded to feature seven weeks of content, and certification for students in attendance. APU professors Gustavo Del Rivero, DBA, adjunct professor, School of Business and Management, Chang H. Kim, PhD, associate professor, School of Business and Management, and Paul Naccachian, JD, LLM, adjunct professor, School of Business and Management, as well as faculty and professors from the four other international universities, were featured speakers at the conference. The event was designed for undergraduate and graduate students alike. Despite the varying locations of participating schools across the world, the conference featured time zone-friendly sessions, in which students were able to attend sessions of their choice from wherever they were located.

“The flexibility of the digital format worked exceedingly well,” Cawman said. “The time-zone flexible design of the sessions allowed for easy and affordable international collaboration. We were able to host a dynamic range of knowledgeable speakers and present quality content from differing cultural backgrounds, all analyzed from a God First, Christian perspective.”

The emphasis on intercultural exchange was a key facet of this event. In collaborating with universities from across the world, students were able to dive into realistic global business interaction. Through hearing from an array of scholarly presenters and working in internationally-diverse small group teams, students were able to engage in the practical application of concepts outside of the scope of traditional classwork.

“Students grappled with dynamic perspectives from around the world. This intercultural exchange promotes an outlook of informed diversity and inclusion from a faith-based perspective,” Cawman said.

Prayer was integrated throughout each session and discussions and lectures highlighted how Christian thought fits into intercultural exchange. Speakers highlighted ethical dilemmas in global business and challenged students to consider how faith plays a role in these issues. Cawman noted the inspiring student feedback he received about the conference. "Discovering tangible and practical examples of how faith is integrated in business across the world was a powerful intercultural experience for students. Some students even told me that it was the highlight of their year.”

This fall, the conference invited 9 schools in 8 countries for the current fall semester, and five accepted—a ratio suggestive of mutual value. For future events, Cawman hopes to host more speakers from across the globe and add more schools to the pool of participants, expanding the diverse cultural perspectives participating in scholarly collaboration. Looking forward, Cawman aims to continue to develop the IB Colloquium, creating new curriculum and expanding the scope of the conference.

“The leadership of Roxanne Helm-Stevens, DBA, interim dean and professor, School of Business and Management, has embraced faculty creativity toward student experiences and outcomes,” said Cawman. “This event is a testament to this creative empowerment. Between events like this IB Colloquium and the re-introduction of various student and honor clubs, the energy level in the School of Business and Management is palpable! It is a great time to be a business student at APU, and we will continue to innovate towards increased student outcomes and memorable student experiences.”

Read more on this fall’s event.