Global Communication Course Brings Students In Contact with Facebook Execs

Students met with business leaders in Denmark, France, Ireland and Italy.

Published: Jun 16, 2011
In Ireland, students met with Facebook’s director of global marketing to discuss how the social networking site has become a public relations driver for many companies.
In Ireland, students met with Facebook’s director of global marketing to discuss how the social networking site has become a public relations driver for many companies.
Aside from visiting with business leaders, the students enjoyed sightseeing like this stop in the Irish countryside.
Aside from visiting with business leaders, the students enjoyed sightseeing like this stop in the Irish countryside.
There are moments while traveling that you just sort of lose yourself in the moment. Natalie Lopez ’12 had her moment this May during a travel course to Europe on global business communication.

She and the 10 other students on the trip with Assistant Professor Chris Gurrie climbed to the top of Milan’s Duomo, a Gothic cathedral said to be the fourth largest in the world, where Napoleon Bonaparte was crowned King of Italy in 1805. After taking in the architecture and the view from the top, Lopez and a few others lay back on the slanted, warm concrete of the roof and took a nap.

It was one of several sweet spots on Lopez’ trip, her first outside the U.S.

“I really wanted to see the world kind of on my own —you know, without my parents,” said Lopez, who knew Gurrie from her Gateways class, an introductory course all first-year students take on decision making. “I wanted to experience it for myself, and I ended up learning a lot about myself.”

Gurrie, who teaches several courses in oral communication, has led the European travel course Speech for Business and the Professions in Ireland, Denmark, France and Italy, giving students the tools for interpersonal understanding and intercultural exchange as it pertains to business. The class is offered for a semester in the classroom, capped by two weeks traveling abroad.

“I want the students to see how the things we talk about in Tampa relate to Western Europe,” said Gurrie.

In Dublin, which had experienced tremendous economic growth in the late 1990s, the students met with one American business that has planted some Irish roots – Facebook. The students sat around a board table with Facebook’s director of global marketing discussing emerging markets and how the social networking site has become a public relations driver for many companies.

In Copenhagen they met with the city’s senior advisor of green commerce, talked about how the government communicates its green initiatives to the public and rode a battery-powered ferry down one of the city’s canals.

In Milan, students got an inside look from a fashion school on the production process —from creating a line of clothing to connecting to buyers and the general public. Fragonard, a perfume creator and distributor in Paris, gave students insight to its business method for branding, and then helped them dabble with the perfumes to create their own unique scents.

“Being able to meet the businesses we did in each city really showed us that you have to be able to communicate at all times,” said Lopez, a performing arts major. “Even though there may be language barriers, there are so many other forms of communicating to get your message across.” 
 

Jamie Pilarczyk, Web Writer
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