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Students Gain International Perspective, Local Practice Through Service-Learning Class

Sophie Waskow, stakeholder engagement coordinator at the GW Office of Sustainability, addresses the class.

This spring, students at GWSB will have the opportunity to act locally and think globally, thanks to a new service-learning course for undergraduates. The new course, IBUS 4900: International Perspectives on Green Business, will integrate community service with academic studies to enrich learning, teach civic responsibility and strengthen the link between GW and the local community. Throughout the course, students will be required to engage with different facets of green business on a global scale to utilize the winning ideas within their local client projects.

Anna Helm, assistant professor of international business, is both instructor and creator of this new course. With the help of Public Service Scholar Emily Baer, and a grant from GW’s Center for Civic Engagement and Public Service, Helm’s idea to combine global business with service-learning became a reality.

“The class will help students understand how regulations and incentives impact clean technology globally and how innovation in this emerging sector is managed across borders.  In addition, students will gain insights about cross-cultural differences in green marketing,” Helm said.  “This course will require students to think critically about what product concepts and green practices are in fact transferable between countries and ultimately utilize these best practices to enhance their service-learning projects.”

On January 20, local community partners visited campus to share their service-learning projects with the students. Erik Haug from Growers First charged students with developing a communications plan directed at consumers in the D.C. area.  Dr. Lynette Whitt, principal of The Judith P. Hoyer Montessori School, a public school in Prince George’s County, asked students to produce a formal proposal to be used in the school’s application to become a certified “green” school in Maryland.  The GW Office of Sustainability’s stakeholder engagement coordinator, Sophie Waskow, called for the development of a tangible marketing data plan.  And Dominick Musso, facilities manager of Martha’s Table, an organization that provides food and other resources to those in need, requested the development of a greening plan to make more efficient use of their facilities and to help attract potential donors.

This course benefits both students and community partners.  Students will gain real-world work experience, and community partners will receive a tangible business plan in response to a relevant business challenge.  While the students bring their theoretical knowledge into the community, at the same time, the practical involvement with the community bolsters their academic learning.

Throughout the semester, the students will be blogging about their experiences with the community partners, tracking their challenges and triumphs.  You can follow their progress at

Posted by gwsb on February 10, 2011 | Filed under: GWSB News.

1 Comment »

  1. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by GWSB, GW CCEPS. GW CCEPS said: Professor Helm and her students are learning global skills through local service in their International Business… [...]

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