When Blair Sheppard became dean of Duke's Fuqua School of Business a year ago, he said he wanted to expand the school's global presence through alliances abroad. On Sept. 15, Duke is doing so in a big way, announcing the launch of a new global program that will bring students to six new overseas campuses in what Sheppard says is a complete rethinking of how global programs work.
The expansion—termed a "global campus network"—is designed to focus on regions that Fuqua School believes will be the "economic and cultural hubs" of the 21st-century economy, Sheppard said in an interview last week. Accordingly, he said, the school is developing new facilities with partners in Shanghai, New Delhi, Dubai, St. Petersburg, London, and Johannesburg.
The partnerships—with other academic insitutions, municipalities, and individuals—will allow Duke to establish five overseas entities in time for the launch of the program next summer. The first partnership to be announced is in Russia, with St. Petersburg State University's Graduate School of Management. The remainder of the partnerships will be announced in coming months.
Sheppard said the program sites were decided through a simple calculus: the places "where you have to be to become part of the future in a significant way."
Embedded in the Local Culture
Sheppard, formerly head of Duke's Corporate Education programs, criticized existing business school approaches to global education as "broken," saying that schools remained regionally oriented and often decided where to place global programs based on "where it was easy to go." He said Duke's intent is to "embed" the programs in another country's local culture and business community through research and local service programs.
At each global outpost, with the exception of South Africa, Duke plans to run MBA classes. All six locations will have a Duke corporation education program, executive education with open enrollment, research centers, and community outreach. Other schools at Duke, including the Nicholas School of the Environment and the Duke University School of Law, will collaborate with the various campuses.
The initial program to be adapted for international facilities is the school's Cross Continent MBA program, which will launch its Class of 2011 with an orientation in London in August 2009. Following that, students will be separated into two groups that will first spend six weeks in either Dubai or New Delhi and later switch countries for the second term. The next campus residencies will take place in St. Petersburg and Shanghai. At the end of the program, students will return to Duke's Durham campus to complete their electives and concentrations. All students will be taking the core Duke MBA classes and electives, though students can choose to pursue optional concentrations in finance and health-sector management.
Students It Wants
The school hopes to attract a diverse group of students from all over the world, particularly from the countries with which Fuqua is partnering. Those considered for the program will be junior managers, ranging in age from 25 to 35, with three to 12 years of work experience, the school said. The program will cost $115,900, which does not include travel among the different campus residencies.
The ambitious Duke plan is a new take on the increasingly popular global MBA model, embraced in recent years by schools ranging from Insead to University of Chicago's Graduate School of Business. Duke's plan is noteworthy because of its scope, says Jerry Trapnell, vice-president and chief knowledge officer at the Association for the Advancement of Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB). Most business schools with global MBA programs tend to send students to two or three campuses, not five or six, as Duke is intending, he says.
"This is the most I've heard of in one program," Trapnell says. "It's another major step in the direction of taking business education to another level with multiple locations."
Shortened to 16 Months
The program will replace the school's existing Cross Continent MBA program, which was launched in 2000. The program currently is conducted at three global campuses—in Shanghai, New Delhi and Brussels. Besides the new campuses Duke is developing, two new classes will be added to the Cross Continent MBA's core program, including one on civilization, culture, and management, and another on global markets and institutions. And unlike the previous program, which was eight terms over 20 months, the new program will cover the curriculum in six six-week terms over 16 months.
Expanding the program to five campuses presents some logistical problems. Sheppard said he is still in the process of figuring out how to staff the campuses, each of which will need at least three or four administrators and two to three faculty member on site. Another difficulty is establishing the physical space for each program and getting all the sites ready for next summer. Finally, there's the task of recruiting students for the program.
Despite that, Sheppard said he remains confident the school will be able to pull it off in time for classes to begin next August.
"I think it's fair to say we're doing this in a way no one has before," Sheppard said. "It's crazy, but I've done something crazy once or twice before."