MIM includes a lot of coursework. A lot.
Depending on your background you may find some more interesting than others, but many students would say that the history class known as “Contemporary Pacific Rim and World Affairs” is a favorite. This class is team-taught by Dr. Melanie Billings-Yun and Jeff Millard, who many of you know as the admissions director. History doesn’t show up in most graduate business programs, but it plays a pivotal role in the MIM.
East and West really started to interact in the 1800’s which is relatively recent given the thousands of years of recorded Asian history. The 230-ish years of American history pale in comparison. History, it turns out, has a lot to say about modern behavior and sentiment. This is what we talk about in the Pacific Rim class.
Take China for example. Many American students grow up hearing about the Communist Party – and the atrocities at Tiananmen Square – but few know the social or historical context for that. Chinese history reaches much deeper, and has been nurturing nationalis tendencies for centuries. Dynastic conflict and repeated foreign invasions (by Japan and western Europe) have contributed to current situations. Who can blame China for being protectionist when its coastal cities were forced open by foreign traders? Let’s not forget that in the mid-19th century British merchants were enjoying huge profits from smuggling opium into Guangzhou.
Korea also has a painful history; it has been marginalized by the strength of both China and Japan over the past several hundred years. In this case, much of the resentment is aimed towards the Japanese, who invaded in the 14th century, and then officially annexed Korea in the early 20th century.
Understanding the historical context in these countries is incredibly useful for understanding the markets today. The biggest mistake that business leaders can make is assuming that just because market X was successful, market Y will therefore also be a breeze. Business leaders who have studied the history of the regions in which they work have significant advantage over the competition.
In the end, that is really the point of a business degree. It is the point of MIM.
image credits: The NY State Dept. of Education