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USC Marshall’s ‘Passport to the World’

USC Marshall???s ???Passport to the World???
Photograph by Lam Yik Fei/Bloomberg

As I’m writing this on the West Coast at 11 p.m., Oct. 11, three top administrators from the University of Southern California—Provost Elizabeth Garrett; James Ellis, dean of the Marshall School of Business; and his vice dean for academic affairs, John Matsusaka—are in Milan wrapping up an agreement with their counterparts at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology and Bocconi University. These three universities are collaborating to launch a three-continent degree program that will take students from Los Angeles to Hong Kong to Milan. They’ve formed a partnership to establish the World Bachelor in Business (WBB). Innovative is too bland a word for what I consider an inspiring and unique breakthrough: the reframing of undergraduate business education with far-reaching and profound consequences.

One sign of its significance was the spectacular international coverage. It garnered Page 1, above-the-fold headlines in just about every business newspaper and magazine. For good reason. Imagine this: You are one of 45 students starting their first year of college, 15 each from Bocconi, Hong Kong, and USC, all carefully selected on identical admission criteria. All 45 spend their entire first academic year in Los Angeles at USC, their second year at HKUST Business School, and year three at Bocconi in Milan. The students then get to choose which of the three universities they want to spend their fourth and final year.