IU Kelley School students headed to Greece, where they'll study its economic issues up close
May 3, 2011
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- When Tatiana Kolovou was visiting family and friends in Athens, Greece, last May, she witnessed first-hand the nationwide protests in response to the government's austerity measures designed to avoid financial default.
Paul Coulis, left, president of medical division of Tempur-Pedic and an IU alumnus, both did a Q&A and judged a case competition where the students advised him about expanding his company's activities in Greece. He is shaking hands with Molly Pearson, a sophomore from Carmel, Ind.
"This was in peoples' minds constantly, because the economy of Greece is not just Greece -- it's the whole of Europe," said Kolovou, a senior lecturer at Indiana University's Kelley School of Business. "I realized how much is happening there that our students may not be exposed to. We're quite far and removed from Europe."
Greece narrowly avoided default with the help of a 110 billion Euro bailout from the European Union and the International Monetary Fund. When Kolovou and 19 Kelley School students depart for Athens on May 14, the country will be engrossed in renewed public debate about how to cope with a staggering debt that equals 10 percent of its gross domestic product.
"The recent economic crisis that we've been reading about and hearing about in the news intrigued a lot of people," said Christian Fritz, a sophomore from Fort Wayne, Ind. "I'm delighted to have the opportunity to study it firsthand and get a grasp of how the Greeks perceive all the issues and how they think everything's kind of playing out."
Carl Comstock, a junior from Palatine, Ill., added, "Being able to look at what's happened there is really important. You learn your lessons from history and from mistakes that other countries have made, so you can apply that to what's happening in the United States."
For the last eight weeks, students have been learning about the business culture in Greece. They've learned about the country's illustrious history and culture, its modern infrastructure and economy, its legal system and its politics. They also have learned about language and business etiquette. The course concludes with a trip to Greece May 14-25.
In addition to Kolovou, other class instructors have included Franklin Hess, coordinator of IU's Modern Greek Program; Olga Kalentzidou, IU associate director of international studies; Andreas Hauskrecht, clinical associate professor of business economics and public policy; and Roberto Garcia, clinical associate professor of international business.
Epaminontas Triantafilou, a Washington, D.C.-based attorney who is assisting a judge at The International Court of Justice at The Hague, joined the students by teleconference and may meet with them in Greece.
Paul Coulis, president of medical division of Tempur-Pedic and an IU alumnus, participated in a Q&A and judged a case competition where the students advised him about expanding his company's activities in Greece.
"These students did very nice work identifying some factors about the Greek economy that really should be of concern to companies like Tempur-Pedic, if we're going to develop a presence there," Coulis said of their presentations. "As I was listening to the students' discoveries of the current economic state in Greece, I quite frankly heard them discuss many of the same economic, social, and political factors that we are dealing with currently in the U.S. Greece right now is really no different, in some ways, than the rest of the developed world.
"They're going to a country that in one way or another is experiencing the same economic issues as their own (U.S.) domestic economy, just in different proportions and maybe in a different context," added Coulis, who earned a bachelor's degree from the IU College of Arts and Sciences.
While in Greece, the students will have an active itinerary of business meetings, company visits and cultural activities. While the overall economy is struggling, they'll see many examples of business success there.
They will attend a special board meeting of BlueWhite Private Equity Fund LLC, which is engaged in developing climate-friendly enterprises that are based on the country's own comparative advantages. The fund's managing director, Angelos Kostopoulos, is an IU graduate.They will meet with politicians from Greece's major political parties and tour its parliament, as well as Greek operations for the international advertising and marketing firm McCann Erickson (which is led by a Kelley graduate), Coca-Cola's corporate offices and a bottling facility; Stealth Gas, a leading petroleum and petrochemical shipping company and Deree College.
Andreas Hadjikyriacos, who pursued a career in print and electronic journalism in Cyprus after earning a bachelor's degree in political science from IU and now is a communications consultant there, also will speak to students at an event organized by the Greek/Cypriot Chapter of the IU Alumni Association.
Students will visit historic and cultural sites such as the Acropolis, the Plaka, Delphi and the National Archaeological Museum. They also will see pistachio farm operations on Aegina, an island in the Saronic Gulf of Greece.
Each student will keep a travel journal and participate in a blog located at http://kelleygreece2011.blogspot.com/.
The Kelley School currently is looking at additional ways to integrate international experiences into its undergraduate curriculum. Kolovou hopes the Greece course is a prototype for other Kelley courses about business cultures around the world.
"Exposure to international business, exposure to other cultures and countries at an undergraduate level is no longer an option if your goal is a quality business education," Coulis said. "These students are getting an opportunity at a very early stage to gain an experience that is not only critical but valuable to them as time goes on."
The Kelley School's Center on International Business Education and Research provided financial support for the course activities. The new Greece course is one of many international experiences offered by the Kelley School's undergraduate program. For more information, go to http://www.kelley.iu.edu/ugrad/academics/abroad.cfm.