Independent study course goes worldwide

Getting ready for the real world can be a challenge.  One course in the College of Business Administration at the University of Northern Iowa is going above and beyond getting students ready for their careers.

Christine Schrage, an instructor of marketing in UNIBusiness, is teaching a Global Trade Practices class this fall, but it's a little different than the regular class or lecture. Schrage meets with four UNI students in her office a couple times a week. Two students from Goianina, Brazil, which, by the way, is more than 5,000 miles away, join them via video conferencing.

"It has been a dream of mine to do an international project like this," said Schrage.

The students are working on a joint final project with Bordana a small embroidery group in Goiania. Their ultimate goal is to research and find small non-profits or other small companies in the U.S., to sell some of the embroidered items.

Independent Study

Students from the Global Trade Practices class surveyed more than 40 consumers regarding the interest of their business venture.

Some of the items that are being addressed in the project include finding a relevant and credible Fair Trade Organization for the group to join, marketing to the consumer, determining the correct distribution channels, putting together a survey and getting customer responses.

"This is a good opportunity to apply our studies to the economy," said Mohammed Abdullah Alshady, a junior finance major. "This course broadens our knowledge and gives us some global experience."

Schrage's students worked together to conduct a survey of consumers regarding the interest in this business venture. More than 40 people answered questions pertaining to price, where the product should be sold, what they would buy and more.

"There are definitely issues we have to work around in this course," said Schrage. "We face language barriers, distance and technical difficulties, but that pales in comparison to the interaction and problem-solving techniques the students are getting."

Eventually, consumers may see products from the embroidery group in Goiania in small shops across the U.S., but for now, the Global Trade Practices class is taking advantage of all this project has to offer.

Schrage's class will be offered this spring as a regular course. Small groups will get to work on projects with people from Brazil as well as Colombia. So, students who are interested in doing an independent study on market research for imports, and interacting with fellow classmates more than 5,000 miles away, should check it out.