UNI Global Trade class gets hands-on experience

Students in today's world will be entering a global marketplace. Gaining hands-on experience and an understanding of various cultures will help students navigate this global environment. Students in the Global Trade Practices class at the University of Northern Iowa are learning about trade in a hands-on project to determine what food products the Cedar Valley community would like to purchase locally. At the same time, they are working with students at EAFIT University in Medellin, Colombia, on what Iowa food products might sell well in their area.

Downtown Cedar Falls

Downtown Cedar Falls already has a variety of

ethinic foods to choose from. Schrage's class is

exploring new food offerings and what food products

the Cedar Valley would like to buy locally.

"UNI gives us an excellent opportunity to experience a commercial world," said Cuncun Wang, a visiting scholar and student in the Global Trade Practices class. "Our professor teaches us, step-by-step, how to work as a business team, to know other people's tastes and to make reasonable decisions."

So far, the students have identified the ethnic makeup of the Cedar Valley and the UNI student body. Small ethnic stores have been identified in the area as well as possible online outlets. The next phase for the students is to identify how international residents and Iowa residents, who have traveled around the world and sampled ethnic foods, would like to buy products and what products are desired and not available here.

"Getting involved in real trade activities and global research assists the students in learning the challenges of global trade," said Chris Schrage, instructor of marketing. "It is not a simple thing, but should not be feared. Students entering the global marketplace with some understanding of the practical aspects of trade will be of greater value to employers."

Students will be having taste tests and asking shoppers to assist with a short survey from 9 to 11 a.m., March 31, at the College Square Hy-Vee in Cedar Falls. Anyone with an interest to explore new food offerings and share ideas with the students is welcome to participate.

A smaller student study will occur April 4 at the College of Business Administration's engagement lunch on the UNI campus. Students will consider the desired products, level of demand, preference for purchase and feasibility of either a stand-alone outlet in Cedar Falls or an in-store department as part of the project. 

"I have really enjoyed the global trade project, as it has allowed me to gain experiences working with international students and I have had the chance to broaden my understanding in regards to international trade," said Samantha Chase, a senior majoring in marketing: sales.

For more information about this project, contact Schrage at 319-273-2126 or christine.schrage@uni.edu.