Global Learning Opportunities

MBA - Academics - Global Learning Opportunities - Global Topic Courses

Global Topic Courses

Travel with Darden faculty and your classmates to some of the world’s most iconic locations. Dive deeply into a business topic that is enhanced and best understood in a particular global setting. Topic courses allow for unparalleled focus and exploration. Learn how you can expand your horizons.

  • France (Normandy): Leadership Lessons

    Leadership Lessons from the Normandy Invasion

    What Will Students Gain From This Program?

    Students will apply the broad leadership lessons from the Normandy invasion to their own reflection on:

    • Impact of planning and leading in a large and complex organization: Discuss the impact of leadership structures in preparing for and executing an operation that depends on high degrees of intra-organizational coordination and planning.
    • Collaboration across units within an organization: Explore how a large organization balances learning from front-line contributors and top-level leadership during the execution of a highly planned operation to adapt to the situation and continue effective pursuit of the mission and goals.
    • Effective leadership: Compare and contrast the American performance at Omaha and Utah and explore the organizational and leadership issues that led to different outcomes and events on the battlefield.
    • Cross-cultural leadership: Develop a deeper understanding of the Normandy Invasion including Allied planning, preparation and training, German response, and the leadership decisions on both sides during the execution of the invasion and follow-on operations.

    Academic Program Overview

    On 6 June 1944, an Allied coalition conducted the largest seaborne invasion in history, crossing the English Channel to assault the shores of Normandy, eventually liberating France and fighting across the continent to defeat Germany. Detailed planning and preparations for the invasion had been conducted over several years. Many factors ensured success, notably the leadership and valor of the ground forces making the assault against an adversary making a supreme effort to repel the invasion. In addition to those engaged in close fighting on the ground, there were many others on the Allied side that made critical contributions from the air, through engineering and logistics, and in Civil Affairs operations. A well-rounded understanding of the challenges and ultimate success of this endeavor warrants a thoughtful grasp of all of these dimensions.

    Through graduate seminar style discussions and on-site discussions in Normandy, students will explore the invasion and the host of leadership lessons to be drawn from this experience such as leading in a large and complex organization, collaboration across units within an organization, managing alliances, cross-cultural leadership, adapting to competitive response and the impact of planning on execution. Students will have the opportunity to apply these broad lessons to their own reflections on effective leadership.

    Faculty Leads

    Barbara Millar

    Gordon Rudd

    Doug McKenna


    14–22 May 2020

    Host Partner

    U.S. Marine Corps School of Advanced Warfighting (SAW)

    What Have Students Said About the Program?

    "I was excited about the history, but was blown away by the depth of the discussion regarding the invasion's application to modern business challenges."

    "I truly enjoyed the experience and thought the execution was well done. The size of the program was perfect. All of the stops and faculty/marine participants greatly enhanced the learning experience. Definitely learned a lot and would recommend to other students."

    "Normandy with Darden students, Darden faculty and "General Rudd" was a humbling and fascinating experience. I couldn't have asked for a more genuinely interested and motivated discussion group to examine the leadership perspectives of one of the greatest undertakings in human history."

    "The D-Day global leadership ride was one of the best experiences I've had at Darden."


    Check out this reflection from Alexander Spencer (Class of 2020) on his experience in Normandy with Darden.  

  • New Zealand: Global Competitiveness

    Global Competitiveness: A New Zealand Perspective

    Course Overview

    In this course, students will explore:

    • The collaboration among businesses, government and other institutions in the pursuit of global competitiveness and economic-social well-being
    • How New Zealand overcame the tyranny of geographical distance from its trade partners
    • How history has offered New Zealand the opportunity to develop and inspire responsible leaders, build a clean-green industrial base, and advance knowledge in a way that creates value for all citizens
    • Highlights will be on tourism and horticulture industries and Maori enterprises

    Faculty Lead

    Alan Beckenstein

    Program Dates

    11–19 March 2019


    What Have Students Said About the Program?

    "By giving a window into a completely different economy and the way they approached problem-solving, the course sharpened an extremely important skillset - the ability to learn from all stakeholders and engage them in building sustainable solutions." 

    "Being put in a non-US environment was a chance to see a very different set of challenges.  It was a reminder that my experience is not the same as others, and that I'll be more effective by taking the time to understand other people's operating environments." 

    Rahul Kanathala (class of 2019) shared his insights on the New Zealand Darden Worldwide course in this blog post.  

  • Chile (Patagonia): Leadership

    NOLS Experiential Leadership Elective

    What Will Students Gain From This Program?

    This special elective in experiential leadership education provides students with the opportunity to practice and develop their personal leadership skills in new and uncertain environment. The course is structured around an 8-day NOLS expedition in the beautiful and rugged mountains of Patagonia during Early Q4. Students will spend this time honing practical leadership strategies and technical outdoor skills. On a daily basis, students will be challenged to exercise individual decisiveness while simultaneously facilitating excellent teamwork, skills relevant to both life at Darden and future business success. The weather and terrain in this part of the world can be unpredictable and challenging, however, these conditions build resilience and tolerance for adversity and uncertainty. There will be a strong focus on individual leadership styles and situational leadership during this course. This course will include two Darden classroom sessions prior to the expedition, one session after the expedition has completed, and a final project.

    Academic Program Overview

    This course will begin by teaching students the basics of living and traveling in the back-country and a common framework for leadership. NOLS Instructors will initially role-model leadership in this context, and provide structure and expectations for the student role. Quickly, however, the students will take on much of the expedition leadership. As student competence increases, the instructors will provide coaching, facilitate classes, discussions, and debriefs, and serve as a technical skill "consultants" and risk management overseers. Through the course of daily events in the wilderness, the student group will encounter various challenges- both related to living and traveling in the environment and due to interpersonal dynamics. At the end of each day, the student group will participate in debriefs to maximize learnings from the day’s challenges and to offer and receive feedback.

    Faculty Lead

    Michael Schill

    Program Dates

    13–20 March 2020

  • Spain: Creativity and Design in Barcelona

    Creativity and Design in Barcelona

    Academic Program Overview:

    In this program, students will explore:

    • Art, history and architecture of Barcelona - one of the world's design capitals - and in the process learning about the qualities of creative thinking, and the context, both individual and environmental, that incubates them.  
    • How social and political contexts in uncertain times affect creativity and innovations. 
    • How the values, expertise and context of artists influence their work. 
    • What it means to be an innovative leader capable of break-through thinking while creating more exciting futures.  

    Faculty Leaders

    Randy Salzman

    Program Dates

    14–20 March 2020


    What Have Students Said About the Program?

    "Dali was a lesson on perspective taking.  The backdrop of Barcelona is imperative to remind you the importance of perspective taking."

    "I loved spending a DWC discussing art and humanities topics, and how they can inform business and strategy."

    Check out this photo essay and insights from the Barcelona Darden Worldwide course from Lixin Peng (Class of 2020). 

  • South Africa: The Business of Conservation

    The Business of Conservation

    Academic Program Overview

    In this course, students will explore:

    • Business models established to preserve and protect endangered species and ecosystem through collaboration with multiple stakeholders. 
    • Innovative approaches to conservation through philanthropy, development of game reserves, and engagement with local communities.  
    • The role of business in addressing conservation and protecting threatened environments and wildlife. 
    • Opportunities for similar business model innovation in addressing other challenges worldwide. 

    Faculty Lead

    Dean Scott Beardsley 

    Program Dates

    13–19 March 2020