From August 4 through the 11th, David will be part of Shenandoah University's joint study abroad program with the University of Oxford, focusing on Global Organizational Management and Leadership. From the UK, David has kept us posted on what it's like to be experiencing the second oldest university in the world. Enjoy his musings!

Friday, August 10, 2012: Today is my last day. Classes will end around 3 pm today. The students have the weekend off. About half of them will be going to Paris this afternoon and spending 2 nights and see the area. This is a fairly expensive trip (at least $1,000 each) for the Eurostar train plus hotels, etc. For others, the reality of cost/value is a blockage. There is plenty to do here as it could take days just to do local attractions. For me, I am looking for the down time after class and getting caught up on business issues as Melanie has been holding down the fort with Scott on vacation also.

Dr. Catherine MacKenzie started today's lecture with a focus on how international business deals with international issues. The UN is the central source for global relations which include issues that may impact business, investments and treaties. Each country has one vote and all are considered equal and sovereign. It started with 50 countries and now is at 192. In addition to the UN, there is (founded at the same time) the International Court of Justice (ICJ). While it is an available resource, it takes an average of six years to bring a case forward. It takes a couple of years to go through the process. Once a verdict is rendered, even if you win, the only way a judgment can be enforced is through the sanction process. It is probably not effective to utilize this approach unless absolutely necessary.

After this discussion, we moved onto peacekeeping missions. There are currently 17 peacekeeping missions that are operating today. They employ over 100,000 people. While they do not have any authority to punish directly, their presence and observations may be supported by the local and country government, unless of course they are the source of the problem. One of the big issues with peacekeeping is that they never come to an end. There is no exit strategy. It also takes about three to four months to launch a mission once requested. The pay to the country government is $115.00/day. This fee is considered to be a significantly high figure. Two governments actually reimburse their workers at that rate. Others are paid substantially less. Most peacekeepers are female at 75%. Note the US funds over 50% of the costs of the UN.

Next we talked about International Environmental Law (IEL). This is Dr. MacKenzie's area of interest. Once it was believed that the best way to gain compliance with agreed upon policies and procedures were to utilize the court system. After realizing that this could take five to seven years and still not have a significant enforcement process, they have changed their approach. It is now focused more on creating policy agreements concerning all issues, and looking for, inspecting and focusing on voluntary compliance. The laws that are created are usually reactive laws based on new technology. For example, new methods of food processing were discovered and then new laws were developed for protection of the quality. This voluntary compliance is then published by rating agencies. These "seals of approval" directly impact the sale and price of the comm0odities being sold. In essence, it is a seal of approval and an implied warranty on how the item was processed or created. A great example is the "Kimberley" seal for diamonds.

We closed this session with three sub groups creating an "employee card" with 10 basic rules. The focus was on the laborers that would be working on the WB or other Bank funding for a new project in three different developing countries. The best source is to go to www.un.org and look at the information and statistics for the country. This was an eye opener for the group and I, as there is a wealth of information on this web site. The session ended at noon.

The final session was at 1 PM for a two hour roundtable discussion in the Courtyard on integrating the week and reflecting on learning areas and integrating the program segments. This took about 45 minutes as we walked through each presentation. After that, the focused shifted to the book "Breakout Nations" by Ruchir Sharma. We then "circled the globe" so to speak and discussed each geography. This was indeed very helpful to have all integrate meaning in a new framework. You could see a major difference in how they framed their answers and responses compared to earlier in the week. Dr. Good used the model from my Action Learning as a methodology. We ended at 3 PM and said our farewells.

 

Some final Reflections

This is truly a University without Classrooms. The Oxford style of learning is one of inquisition, reflection, discussions and searching for meaning. This is not done in a classroom. It is truly one-on-one or small group or cohort group. While this is my personal preferred way of learning, there are only two or three rooms at the campus of Magdalen College for cohort work. It is almost always a one-on-one experience. Can you imagine a US university with no classrooms?

The next item of reflection is to project the full time student profile that would be at Oxford. While they are only here for two 11 week college sessions, the structure and approach would give you insight to what it would be like to be here during full session. First, they would be intellectually above most. They would be cream of the crop intellectually. No student could survive without being at that level. The competencies of the professors are outstanding. Second, they would most definitely come from the upper class. One could not afford this approach to education unless wealthy. At Oxford, the admissions is more about intellect and appropriate upbringing. This also focuses on tradition. Forget all the equality issues here. It is a total approach of respect for the 600 year tradition, intellect and what it means to be at Oxford. Simply astonishing in 2012! I am sure it will still be that way in the future.

Another interesting note is that there was a tacit agreement during World War II that Oxford and Cambridge would not be bombed. Those were the days when there was still had some level of civility. I am sure glad that they were not bombed.

This ends my notes. I will have dinner with Randy Boxx and RT Good tonight. Tomorrow, I head to the airport and return home. With Scott on vacation for half of the week, Melanie has pulled triple duty. As always, she has done a spectacular job. I appreciate having this experience while she carries the load for me. Love is!