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Zicklin School of Business Enriches Global Degree Program with Humanities Courses

Baruch-SWUFE 3+1 students perform a play in an introduction to theater course.Baruch-SWUFE 3+1 students perform a play in an introduction to theater course

Theater arts come alive in Baruch’s global degree program with China’s Southwestern University of Finance and Economics as Zicklin School of Business

Weissman School of Arts and Sciences collaborate to offer humanities courses

Baruch College’s Zicklin School of Business is enriching its global degree programming—beyond finance, economics, and accounting—by offering humanities to students enrolled in the Baruch-Southwestern University of Finance and Economics (SWUFE) BBA degree program in China.

Each year, undergraduates enrolled in this program explore several, hands-on arts courses, from theater to music, taught by professors and scholars from the Weissman School of Arts and Sciences.

This unusual weaving of humanities into a business curriculum gives the BBA majors a competitive advantage in sharpening communications skills, particularly English, and learning creative collaborations, explains Qing Hu, PhD, Zicklin’s Senior Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and Innovation, who manages the Baruch-SWUFE 3+1 BBA program.

“With digital technology profoundly transforming and disrupting business and society, employers are increasingly looking for future leaders with exceptional quality of creativity, communication, and collaboration,” Hu said. “The performing arts classes help students learn exactly these skills. Zicklin has been a strong believer and a leader in infusing a solid liberal arts foundation in its BBA curriculum, and we are happy to see the success of our students in these courses.” 

In 2015, the Zicklin School of Business established a global partnership with SWUFE, which allows students to spend the first three years at the China-based institution then matriculate at Baruch for the last year to complete their BBA degree.

Integrated Curriculum: Better Students and Better Leaders

Anne Swartz, PhD, professor of music and chair of Weissman’s Department of Fine and Performing Arts expresses optimism that this partnership with SWUFE will continue for many years.

“One of my goals as department chair is to continue the relationship with SWUFE,” Swartz said. “I have worked very hard to ensure that we send top-notch teacher/professionals and scholars to represent the Department of Fine and Performing Arts and Baruch College. As educators, we are all involved in the learning process on many levels, and we continue to learn a great deal from the collaboration with students and colleagues in the SWUFE 3+1 program.”

According to Professor Swartz, Weissman’s Department of Fine and Performing Arts has been alternating its Introduction to Theater and Music in Civilization courses every fall semester since 2017. Additional humanities courses are available in the winter and summer sessions.

Art Courses Boost Business Students Creativity   

Last semester, Khris Lewin, an adjunct professor in the Department of Performing Arts, taught the introduction to theater arts course— acting, directing, playwriting—to approximately 160 students, resulting in “tremendous, concrete benefits.”

Professor Lewin introduced students to theatre with a two-pronged approach: an academic view, including a study of theatre history and dramaturgic analysis of Greek tragedy, Shakespeare and musical theatre; and a practical view, including the opportunity for the students to write their own short plays and perform them.  

In addition, the students built and painted theatre masks, and developed movement pieces utilizing their masks. The semester culminated in a powerful two-hour presentation comprised of student performances of their plays and movement pieces. 

“I have been surprised at how little difference there is between business students and arts students, and how talented and creative all of these students can be. There is a reason that art and specifically drama have been with us for thousands of years, and a study of these disciplines make all of us better students, better leaders and better people.”

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 (Story published on 2/24/20)

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