Cornell University

International Programs

117 Ives Hall, 607-254-7255


October 19 2005

Wright Teams with CAHRS Sponsors to Offer Graduate Field Study in Europe

Patrick WrightIn a first-of-its-kind course, ILR graduate students will have a chance to explore in-depth what they learn in the classroom—and their classroom is Europe. Patrick Wright, professor of human resource studies and CAHRS director, together with Ph.D. student John Haggerty (pdf), will offer ILRHR 658: Field Study in Strategic Human Resources.  This unique course provides instruction on HR management in a specific region of the world, and a one to three week visit to the region to explore strategies and practices first hand.

For Spring 2006 the focus will be on the European Union. Attention will be paid to the development of selected European businesses, the history, role and current efforts of the European Union in the workplace, and local cultural nuances as they affect the world of work.

Students will be asked to compare and contrast significant aspects of the dominant U.S. strategic HR model with strategic HR models found in the EU.  Students will visit Brussels, with potential for further travel to The Hague and Amsterdam.

Wright explains his inspiration for the course came out of a summer program he took as an undergraduate where he, along with 25 other Wheaton College students, took classes while traveling throughout Europe. He found the international experience to be far more educational than simply reading about other countries or cultures. In a meeting with Wright and others in CAHRS during summer 2005, ILR’s new dean, Harry Katz, shared his own goal to create more opportunities for all students to gain an international experience before graduating. “When I told him we had been talking about our idea to develop a course, he pretty much ordered us to do it for Spring 2006,” quips Wright.

With the support of the dean, Wright and colleague Scott Snell discussed ways to use the strong support of the multinational companies that make up CAHRS to make it happen. It didn’t take long.  GE, for example, got their corporate hotel rate for student rooming, arranged bus service, will host a dinner, and asked their Government Affairs person to invite other EU representatives. Royal Dutch Shell too is highly involved and will host the ILR group at their HQs in The Hague. Other CAHRS sponsors likely to participate are AstraZeneca, Merck, and Diageo. A strong network of European colleagues has also led to several offers to guest lecture.  A group of companies running a career fair one afternoon during the Cornell visit will also give students a chance to meet with some of the people recruiting for European jobs.

Europe was chosen as this year’s site primarily because of a well-established network there that could bring the course to fruition quickly. CAHRS also has an executive education program in Amsterdam during that time so Wright and Snell will be in the region. Next year there are plans to take the class to China, led by ILR professor Lisa Nishii.

Students will incorporate their learning in the classroom and on the field visit in a final paper and/or class presentation.  Travel dates are March 18, 2006 through March 25, 2006. Fees for participation in the course are expected to be approximately $2000. There will be no formal class sessions after March 30, 2006. Papers and projects will be due the final week of classes. Those enrolled must have a valid passport, will be required to prove adequacy of medical coverage, and complete a release of liability for international travel. Enrollment is limited to 25.