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Setting Students on the World Stage

CBE staff in Denmark
Associate professor of operations management Scott Metlen, shakes hands with Danish Olympic Gold medalist and Idaho Alum Joachim Olsen, with statistical sciences department head Rick Edgeman and business professor John Lawrence.

The journey between Moscow, Idaho, and Denmark is a familiar one for statistical sciences department head Rick Edgeman. And that path is on its way to become a well traveled one for students interested in global business.

Edgeman and colleagues in the University of Idaho’s College of Business and Economics are creating a new joint graduate-level certificate program with the Aarhus School of Business at Aarhus University in Denmark that will connect students from both countries for a greater learning opportunity.

The program, enterprise-wide process and performance excellence, will focus on developing strategy and tactics throughout all levels of processes and relationships in business. The American portion of the program primarily will be marketed to those on the mid-management to upper-management track.

“We’re really preparing students to be successful in their company while deepening their world perspective,” says John Lawrence, Idaho business professor. “Building contacts in a program like this gives students a richer experience, a broader education.”

Forging this partnership, Lawrence, Edgeman and Scott Metlen, associate professor of operations management, recently made the trek to Denmark to work on curriculum for the new program.

Beyond Aarhus School of Business being a top-rated business school, the relationship with Idaho started with Edgeman, who spent a year at Aarhus on sabbatical leave from Colorado State University. He brought that connection with him to Idaho in 2004, as he continues to foster the academic and personal relationships he created.

The partnership is strengthened by Idaho’s current relationships with northwest businesses, like Boeing, which have similar interests and structure to Danish companies, like Vestas (wind energy).

“We’re known by the company we’re keeping, and professionally, we’re in good company with this new program,” says Edgeman.

As Edgeman, Lawrence and Metlen are currently laying the groundwork, the program is not expected to begin until spring of 2012. They anticipate the initial class to be Danish students, but plan to tweak the program to maximize it for American students as well.

Designed for full-time employees, students will start in Aarhus for two weeks in the spring, spend two weeks in Idaho in the summer and finish up with a week in Aarhus. Edgerman says sessions will be intensive, learning in the classroom, visiting companies to reinforce lessons and then debriefing all in a 10-hour day. The program will culminate with a project. He adds the Danish version may become a module in their MBA program.

“The program needs to be flexible, as we’re working with working students,” says Metlen. “The company and the employee will have to be very committed to this.”

This program is the first of its kind in the world, but if it is successful, Edgeman says this could become a model for others to follow.