Future overseas programs should promote professionalism

by Beacon Staff • November 10, 2011

strongAt issue:/strong

Emerson’s announced Beijing program

strongOur take:/strong

Abroad initiatives are an opportunity to emphasize industry savvy from a global perspective.

For years, Emerson students seeking a learning experience beyond the corner of Boylston and Tremont Streets for an entire semester have been faced with three primary, divergent choices: entering the cutthroat professional worlds of Los Angeles or Washington, D.C., or diving into a cultural tour of Europe at Kasteel Well.

Last week, we were pleased when President Pelton announced a concrete timetable for the construction of the college’s satellite campus in LA—revered by the Emerson community as the most professionally enriching external initiative available to students. Scores of students currently await acceptance to the prestigious program for the 2012-2013 school year.

Meanwhile, new groups primarily comprised of underclassmen continue to absorb European culture at the Castle each semester. Crisscrossing the continent, those students enjoy the sights, flavors, anxieties, and beverages that go hand in hand with living in an unfamiliar part of the world.

However, semester-long opportunities for students not just to study and travel overseas—but to expand their professional horizons—haven’t materialized. Unlike LA,  Kasteel Well is not a significant launchpad for careers in communication and the arts. With the proposal of a program with the Communication University of China in Beijing, it is our hope that Emerson students will have the opportunity to experience a foreign culture while networking in markets relevant to their majors.

Currently, Emerson’s highest-profile opportunities for professional development are based in LA and D.C. As communication hubs, the college has been savvy in its exploitation of industry connections in those major metropolitan areas. In developing its Beijing program, Emerson has the chance to marry the Castle’s global immersion with the pragmatism of our internship-driven domestic opportunities.

In a robust and expanding economy, Emerson students will benefit from witnessing innovation firsthand in China. In addition to learning further about their fields of study, we hope they will gain a more comprehensive understanding of China’s burgeoning economic role on the world stage. Furthermore, Emerson will be able to further validate its commitment to global initiatives.

However, the college mustn’t spare any expense in preparing participants for the vastly different social and political realities of Chinese society. Students who have grown dependent on the freedom of expression allowed by the First Amendment will have to anticipate the limits and challenges of communicating within the confines of censorship and the Great Firewall.

At Emerson, we pride ourselves on mastering Twitter, social media and unfettered communication resources to meet our professional objectives. We hope that studying in Beijing will challenge students to innovate under different circumstances, and to situate the Emerson professional experience in a global context.