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.

  • Normandy, France: Leadership

    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

    Mark Haskins

    Doug McKenna


    11–19 May 2019

    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."

  • 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

    13–22 March 2019

  • 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

    Bobby Parmar

    Program Dates

    13–22 March 2019

  • Barcelona, Spain: Design Thinking

    Strategy as Design in Barcelona

    What Will Students Gain From This Program?

    1. The opportunity to immerse themselves in a new environment in a way that heightens their perception of the design of daily aspects of life that we often fail to notice, like sidewalks, transportation systems, and storefronts.
    2. An exploration of the larger political and social context of Barcelona before Spanish Civil War, and the way in which it impacted the creative life of its inhabitants.
    3. The change to examine, in detail, the evolution of the work of three of Catalonia’s most significant creative thinkers: painters Pablo Picasso and Salvador Dali and architect Antoni Gaudi. Students will visit their studios, museums and finished creations to develop a deep and personal connection to the inspiration for their creativity.
    4. Students will translate what they learn from the world of art and architecture back to the world of organizations and reflect upon what it means to be the kind of innovative leader capable of break through thinking that creates new futures.

    Academic Program Overview

    Spend six days exploring the art and architecture of Barcelona — one of the design capitals of the world — and in the process learn about the qualities of creative thinking in any environment. Barcelona’s history and culture are rich and informative. We’ll focus our attention primarily on a particular period of intense artistic achievement – almost a “perfect storm” of creativity during about a 50-year period before the Spanish Civil War that included a succession of painters including Miro, Picasso, and Dali; architects like Gaudi, Domenech Montaner, and Puig Cadafalch, and musicians like Pablo Casals, to name a few. We’ll move beyond the qualities of designed objects to look at the process of designing itself. We’ll also examine the relationship between creative "break-through" thinking and design. Throughout the week as we visit these iconic sights, students will be asked to capture their learning in a private journal. This will give us the material we need to examine the ultimate "so what does this mean for us as strategic thinkers in business?" question.

    Faculty Leaders

    Jeanne Liedtka

    Randy Salzman

    Program Dates

    10–15 March 2019

  • United Kingdom: Capital Markets

    Global Capital Markets

    What Will Students Gain From This Program?

    Students will immerse themselves in global capital markets by listening to expert practitioner talks, participation in case discussions, visiting the stock exchange and/or other markets, and by spending time reflection. London is one of the premier global capital markets (along with New York, Tokyo, and Shanghai) which affords an array of learning opportunities, most importantly, as it relates to the EU and the EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa) markets; bank coverage and fund investment for such regions is commonly located in London and stocks from these regions are often listed or cross-listed in London.

    London also has a central position in the market for gold and art trading, and is a leading market for the issuance of renminbi (dim sum) bonds. The recent Brexit vote presents a challenging way forward for the UK generally, and London in particular. How will this vote shape the future of UK, EU, and the world broadly? The course will explore several of these issues and markets in detail and students will be gaining insight on how global markets function, what kinds of factors impact them, who the key players are, and what their role is. This course will also seek to explore sector/industry specific learnings in areas such as real estate, shipping, hedge funds and private equity.

    Academic Program Overview

    Advance preparation will include cases, as well as other related readings. During the week in London, we will have speaker talks interspersed by case discussions and visits to places that will advance the understanding and knowledge of global capital markets, such as stock exchanges, etc.

    Faculty Lead

    Yiorgos Allayannis

    Program Dates

    14–20 March 2019