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Why it's better to work together

Why it's better to work together: The only thing constant in today’s world is change.

By Professor Kiran Fernandes

In our political spheres, issues like Brexit pose significant challenges to how the UK continues to impact upon and work with countries not just in the EU but across the world. In our industries, the rise of Industry 4.0 has made the future of work and the skills necessary to succeed near impossible to predict. In our societies, growing pressures to act in a way that better sustains the world around us has prompted all organisations to seek new ways of conducting business.

In answering these challenges, there is strength to be found in numbers. The mantra is collaborating to succeed.

In an ever more interconnected world, it is ‘old hat’ for a business or institution to be contained by its own four walls or geography. Today, even the smallest organisations operate – and indeed thrive – by conducting their business on the international market and engaging with a global network. It, therefore, stands to reason that business schools – the educators and shapers of the future generation of business leaders – should seek to do the same.

We have a goal, a strong ambition, that by 2027 Durham University Business School will be listed amongst Europe’s top 20 institutions. Key to this is extending our reach and impact beyond our current limits. Ensuring our education can be accessed by a wide range of students and professionals by, for example, recruiting internationally or exploring the possibilities of digital learning is a core priority, but becoming a truly international institution means moving beyond securing a diverse cohort.

Our School is focused on three core areas, Research and Impact, Education, and Student Experience, and it’s in each of these we will endeavour to continue expanding our horizons.

I was appointed to lead this effort as the School’s first Associate Dean for Internationalisation. We’ve begun by launching a number of new initiatives. For example, we have developed strategic partnerships with world-leading institutions in Europe, China and the USA. We have also launched a Global Citizenship Programme which is run through a multi-university partnership, enabling students to learn about, and study within, a wide range of countries and cultures. The premise is to give them not just a first-hand experience of working and studying in another location, but also the benefit of learning from local academics and industry professionals.

In addition to this is a dedicated effort to ensure our core faculty and academic visitors are also representatives of this vision by welcoming a broader spectrum of professions and backgrounds to our networks and encouraging those within the Business School to seek partnerships beyond the immediate faculty. By engaging in a greater number of industry projects and research collaborations with overseas partners, our School will be in a better position to contribute to answering the world’s most pressing questions ourselves and providing our graduates with the tools to do the same.

Beyond sharing our research, our School is also engaged in a number of joint programmes and new educational offerings such as the launch of a series of Doctorates in Business Administration (DBA), providing students with an alternative, academically rigorous and explorative route to professional executive development. This year sees the redesign and relaunch of the School’s jointly offered DBA with Fudan University in Shanghai. Whilst the partnership between our two schools spans more than a decade, this revamped programme seeks to provide senior business leaders with a broader scope of business knowledge by exploring the local business context in two globally influential economies. It is an opportunity to pursue original research whilst benefiting from the support of faculty from two leading education institutions and offers a chance to explore new areas of skill development.

Furthermore, the School has a new DBA partnership with leading French business school emlyon. The Global DBA: Durham-emlyon will provide students with a unique and unparalleled opportunity to learn from, and collaborate with, internationally renowned faculty at two of Europe’s most innovative business schools. The programme has been designed to forge thought leaders who can push the boundaries of accepted business practice by encouraging students to think independently, conduct their own research and find new ways of tackling the issues at the heart of their respective industries. The partnership also extends the capacity for research partnerships between faculty, helping to ensure our School has the opportunity to leave its footprint in Europe in the years to come and vice versa.

By developing partnerships with our contemporaries (and sometimes our competitors) around the world, we’re able to improve our educational offering for students enrolled on our programmes, share best-practice and ideas amongst the wider business education community and ensure our School can keep providing value to industry for many years to come.

The article was first published in IMPACT Magazine in June 2018.

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