Study Abroad: Key to Competing in the International Economy

How important are travel and education experiences abroad to achieving success in the global economy? That’s almost a trick question, since the answer is a resounding v-e-r-y. The ability to work well internationally with people and cultures other than your own has never been more critical than it is today, and one of the best stepping stones to cross-cultural competence is studying abroad.

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Wharton Magazine has published a fascinating article highlighting the recent White House Summit on Study Abroad and Global Citizenship. During that event, First Lady Michelle Obama said studying abroad is “quickly becoming the key to success in our global economy. Getting ahead in today’s workplace isn’t [just] about getting good grades … but about having real experience with the world beyond your borders. Study abroad is about shaping the future of your country and of the world we all share.”

Several travel bloggers and digital media influencers were invited to the event. One such guest, the publisher of WanderingEducators.com Jessie Voigts, says, “Study abroad and gaining international experience are critical to citizens of the world today. In order to compete in the international economy, we need to have an educated, well-traveled, resilient population.”

We’ve covered the subject of studying abroad in the past, and of particular interest were the research findings of Kellogg School of Management Professor Adam Galinsky, who suggested that living abroad boosts creativity.  Together with the study’s lead author William Maddux, an assistant professor of organizational behavior at INSEAD, they conducted five studies to test the idea that living abroad and creativity are linked.

The results showed that the longer students had spent living abroad, the more likely they were to come up with more creative solutions to problems. “Knowing that experiences abroad are critical for creative output makes study abroad programs and job assignments in other countries that much more important, especially for people and companies that put a premium on creativity and innovation to stay competitive,” Maddux wrote. 

Take a look at Lisa Ellen Niver‘s piece, “Make Study Abroad an Education Imperative,” for further thoughts on how international education experiences will help Americans keep pace with other countries in global marketplace.

You may also be interested in:

Living Abroad Boosts Creativity, Say INSEAD & Kellogg Profs

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