November 4 marked the official launch of Working Across Borders (WAB), Durham College’s (DC) new course focused on international collaboration and sustainability through student-run consultancy projects. Approximately 550 people from around the world joined DC students and faculty members for the launch, using the global classroom, DC’s internationally live-streamed approach to global learning. More than 128 students across the International Business Management and Project Management post-grad programs, alongside a group of students in the Finance program, enrolled in WAB this fall.
Participants from Canada, Germany, Russia, Italy, Finland, Belgium, and the United States participated in the kickoff event, with Geanne van Arkel of Interface Inc. in attendance. Arkel is the head of sustainable development for Interface, WAB’s client, and the world’s largest producer of carpet tiles, resilient flooring and luxury vinyl tiles. In 2016, Interface launched Climate Take Back, their commitment to running their business in a way that is environmentally sustainable, and environmentally restorative.
During the opening, Pranshu Pinakinbhai Bhatt, a first-year International Business Management student, expressed excitement for WAB, saying “It will be interesting to see how we can work as a team. Each person brings a different culture and working styleso we have to learn to co-operate.” He went on to say “I recently learned that verbal commitments are very important in Finland, so now I adjust my style to fit with Finnish colleagues. Now, if I make a verbal commitment, I make sure to follow through.”
As the launch ended, Arkel challenged the students by saying “If we want to work on sustainable solutions, we need to work together, and that’s where Durham College comes in. We need a new story for our climate’s future. A story that benefits all life. We need you.”
Through the WAB, students will meet Arkel’s challenge as the program teaches students how to achieve success in a global marketplace, while meeting the environmental needs of today’s world. Students work in multi-national teams to develop and pitch sustainable solutions to combat issues that impact the world socially and environmentally. These solutions, based on three of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals outlined by the United Nations, include: gender equality, clean water and sanitation, climate action and responsible consumption and production.
“This cross-cultural co-operation is exactly what WAB and the global classroom was designed to do,” says DC professor, Rogier Ten Kate.
Along with TenKate, Dustin Weihs, professor and Joanne Spicer, global learning facilitator, WAB will continue to grow and evolve with the world at large.