Dean Bousquet: Creating a global talent pool [Wisconsin State Journal]

Wisconsin State Journal, November 8, 2007

The increasing interdependence of the world ‘s economy is practically a fixture in the news these days, and for good reason. Whether it ‘s the need for global competence (claimed in this week ‘s New York Times), or the increase of outsourcing and immigration (described in last week ‘s Isthmus), U.S. education, employment and industry will never be the same.

By partnering with corporations both in and out of Wisconsin, UW-Madison has created an innovative program that gives students the global competence they need to tackle these new challenges and to successfully navigate in an increasingly international workplace.

At the same time, it gives Wisconsin businesses a global edge, providing employers with a well-educated, globally minded workforce that will continue to attract people — and business — to Wisconsin.

In just two years, UW-Madison ‘s Division of International Studies ‘ International Academic Internship program has placed 24 UW-Madison students in workplaces from Tokyo to Qing Dao to Dar-es-Salaam.

Thanks to an alliance between several campus units, prominent local and global companies and UW alumni, 12 businesses and organizations overseas have opened their workplaces to our student interns in 11 cities.

Students from Prairie du Chien, Fond du Lac, Eau Claire, Oshkosh, Oak Creek and many other Wisconsin towns have taken advantage of this unique opportunity, gaining the confidence and worldview they need to be competitive in today ‘s workforce.

One student, a marketing major from Racine, spent last summer in Singapore, where she interned for JohnsonDiversey, run by one of the sons of the SC Johnson family company, both of which are based in her hometown. Now she says she hopes to work for that same company upon graduation.

But the International Academic Internship isn ‘t just for business majors. After all, this is a generation of students who expect their professional futures — no matter where they work or live — to transcend national boundaries.

That ‘s why another intern, a Chinese major, didn’t go abroad at all. Instead, having lived in Asia previously, he spent his summer in the International Division of the Wisconsin Department of Commerce.

There, this Madison native helped to create cultural briefs on China and Japan for use by Wisconsin employers in trade relations and delegations.

Because education is the currency of the global knowledge economy, the boundaries of the campus now must include not just the state, but the world at large. This is the work of a great global public research university.

By providing Wisconsin ‘s employees with a competitive degree of global competence and giving Wisconsin ‘s businesses insight into international business cultures, UW-Madison helps keep Wisconsin ‘s economy strong.

The world is changing. UW-Madison is preparing its students — and its state — for what ‘s ahead.

Bousquet is dean of UW-Madison ‘s Division of International Studies and director of its International Institute.