ICE Majors dive into foreign waters
From the pages of the Bottom Line, Bentley College's faculty/staff newsletter

Junior Anna Alvarado hails from California.

By Joe O'Shea

In the increasingly connected global business community, there is always a great need for business professionals schooled not only in sound business practice, but educated in the ways of international commerce and customs. It was with this in mind that Professor of Economics Dale Kuntz launched Bentley's International Culture and Economy (ICE) program during the 1993-1994 academic year.

Unlike many programs that groom the international business professionals of tomorrow, the ICE program is neither a business program (in the technical sense) nor a male-dominated program. ICE students earn a bachelor of arts degree, but can minor in business or the liberal arts. They can also choose the five-year BA/MBA or BA/MSA options.

The program is gaining favor among students who understand the shrinking nature of the global economy, or those who are unsure about what career path to choose. ICE's cross-disciplinary approach to study has proven popular. This fall, ICE has added 23 new students, bringing the program's total to 78.

"I attribute the growth of the program to the fact that a lot of students are finding out that it's the soft skills of language and cultural awareness that are as important as the hard skills of accounting and finance," says Assistant Professor of Geography Sean McDonald, who succeeded Dale as ICE program director during the summer. "Companies are finding that it's easier to teach new
employees the hard skills than it is to educate them about foreign languages, how to be globally aware, and how to conduct themselves overseas."

The typical ICE major is very atypical of many business school students. McDonald points out that in addition to having cosmopolitan leanings, most ICE majors are female. While the population of liberal arts institutions is predominantly female, the converse traditionally holds true at business schools. For example, men outnumber women at Bentley (58 percent male/42 percent female), Bryant (60 vs. 40 percent) and Babson (63 vs. 37 percent).

One of those women is junior Anna Alvarado, who is enrolled in ICE's BA/MBA program. While researching business colleges as a high school student in California, Alvarado came upon Bentley in US News & World Report. She consulted Dale Kuntz before enrolling at Bentley.

"When I was thinking of studying business, I wasn't sure what I wanted to study," says Alvarado. "When I saw ICE, it was a good fit for me because I'm not a hardcore business person.

"ICE has been everything I expected," adds Alvarado, who plans on spending part of her summer studying in Budapest. "ICE allowed me to take the government courses that I really wanted to take, and at the same time, I can take business courses. Since I'm bilingual, I could waive the language requirement. I'm trying to fulfill my potential and become the all-around student that Bentley is trying to produce."

Like Alvarado, most ICE students take advantage of the Cronin International Center's study-abroad programs. Although studying abroad is not a requirement, many ICE majors are eager to spend time overseas. Unlike the average college student, who views the study-abroad experience as a five-month cultural excursion, the ICE major views this opportunity as "on-the-job training," according to McDonald. It's an opportunity to acquire a taste of the future for many students.

"ICE majors travel abroad and think critically," says Jill Perry Redin, coordinator of the Study Abroad Program. "ICE students go abroad to truly learn."

Copyright 1990-present Joe O'Shea, Jr.
O'Shea Communications