At a typical college, many students regard the first week of classes as “syllabus week.” A normal professor hands out a ten- page syllabus outlining class topics and project due dates for the semester. While this is protocol, the classes at The Ohio State University do not always follow protocol, especially if a student is enrolled in the Emerging Market Global Lab to Brazil through the Fisher College of Business.
After being in school for more than thirteen years, one is well aware of how to arrive to class on time, take Cornell notes, and absorb a professor’s lesson. The tasks he or she is accustomed to doing in an academic environment are not as relevant in the Emerging Market Global Lab class.
Instead of the usual student-teacher relationship, this class is structured more like the real world with a boss-employee relationship. Instructions are given once orally and students are expected to raise their hands and ask questions for clarification because this is how it is done in the business world. If a boss gives an employee instructions, it would be absurd for the employee to email the boss later that night asking for clarification instead of asking immediately after the instructions were given. Students are treated as professional adults and are expected to conduct themselves as such. They will not be given step by step instructions on how to complete an assignment, but rather be required to problem solve and figure out what to do with loose parameters.
By the second week of class each student had already researched and prepared a presentation about their “understanding of emerging markets one week later.” Students had a maximum of four minutes to present their ideas and were cut off after the four minutes were up. This may seem harsh to some, but this is the reality of board meetings at Fortune 500 companies around the globe. An employee has a limited amount of time to present his or her thoughts about a certain topic. It is a vital skill to be able to communicate effectively and efficiently within a time constraint. Students will develop this skill over the course of the semester by giving multiple presentations and talking in front of the group. Students will also be working on many group projects on subjects such as the exportation of goods to emerging markets. They will learn how to collaborate in groups and how to work together for a common goal. While this class culminates with a two-week trip to Manaus, Brazil, majority of the learning happens inside the walls of the classroom. Many students want to take a class like this solely for the international trip at the end, but the information they learn from the semester course is knowledge that can be leveraged in a real-life occupation after college.
The students in EMGL are curious, outgoing and hungry for more knowledge. They are willing to work hard and are excited about what their future holds. This class has some intentional ambiguity on what the professor wants and expects out of students, but ambiguity fosters creativity and without strict guidelines, students have the potential and opportunity to surpass “expectations.”