Organization Development and Leadership is a Global Laboratory

SJU faculty and students from the M.S in Organization Development and Leadership (ODL) graduate program welcomed eight students from Shanghai, China, during July and August, as part of their course work toward a University Master’s degree. The study visit followed a spring trip to Shanghai by ODL Director, Felice Tilin, Ph.D., and faculty colleague, Claire Conway, Ph.D., to team-teach two graduate-level program courses in adult learning theory and organizational leadership.ODL_Experiential Learning

The Chinese student cohort completed three courses while at SJU. At the students’ request, two of the courses integrated the visitors with their American counterparts. One of the courses, The Change Leader, is unique to the online ODL program in that it incorporates a face-to-face residency experience, encouraging both social interaction and deep learning. In Dr. Tilin’s view, for students focused on developing the knowledge and skills associated with facilitating organizational change, the time working together in intercultural groups created a true “global laboratory.”

The shared learning experiences truly were transformative. The Chinese students noted that the insights gained would have a real effect upon the ways in which they do training and development in their work places. Their SJU co-learners came away with an increased empathy for and understanding of the need to slow down and develop relationships rather than just focusing on getting the job done when working in the new world of multicultural business.

Apart from the obvious benefits that resulted from their course work, all of the students involved were most grateful for the opportunity to contribute in a small way to bridging the gaps between Chinese and Western business cultures. ODL faculty and students especially were happy to increase their LinkedIn contacts by eight international colleagues.

The ODL program will continue to expand global learning opportunities for graduate students with a study tour in spring 2013, during which students and faculty will visit multinational Training and Development Departments in a group of Italian corporations.  Future study tours and student/faculty exchanges in Africa and Asia are also under consideration.