“We’ve always made a big effort to be interdisciplinary and to be open to a variety of perspectives, but also to go beyond being open to them, to want to bring them in, because it makes for a richer environment.”
An international legacy
MIT Sloan’s international learning ventures began in the 1930s with student camping tours of industrial Europe. Sponsored by the Thorne-Loomis Foundation, the tours were structured around site visits to European manufacturing plants. Travel arrangements were anything but glamorous; students drove from country to country in a converted bus outfitted with sleeping quarters and a makeshift kitchen.
The advent of World War I brought an end to the camping tours, but in the 1950s MIT Sloan resurrected international student travel through its Sloan Fellows Program. The inaugural Sloan Fellows international field trip brought students to Montreal and Ottawa, where they met with managers at several organizations to gain insight into foreign business practices. Later field trips were mainly throughout Europe.
Establishing ties in Russia and China
In the 1950s, MIT Sloan began collaborating with the former Soviet Union’s State Committee for Science and Technology. Using the Sloan Fellows international field trip as a platform, MIT Sloan sent student groups to Moscow to visit businesses and meet with their leadership teams. In exchange, executives from the Soviet Union came to MIT Sloan to take classes as visiting Sloan Fellows.
A similar arrangement was established in China, which laid the groundwork for MIT Sloan’s subsequent engagements throughout China and the Asia-Pacific region. The School’s first formally recognized partnerships in China were established in 1996 with Tsinghua University and Fudan University.
While Asia-Pacific continues to be a key area of international activity for MIT Sloan, the past decade has seen exciting new collaborations in Portugal, Turkey, India, and Brazil. In 2013, MIT Sloan expanded its presence in Latin America by opening the MIT Sloan Latin America Office in Santiago, Chile, the School’s first office outside the United States.
“The faculty-host is amazing: I get all the guidance and they introduce me to experts in the field”