European Union

  • Belgium, Holland and the European Economy

    What will students gain from this program?

    Global Immersion European Union 1-1When viewed as a single economy, the European Union is consistently the largest or second-largest in the world, with a GDP of $16.2 trillion in 2015. It is also an important business center with 28% of Fortune 500 companies headquartered there. Business leaders today need to understand Europe today from “Brexit” and the future of the Eurozone to European markets to European firms that are dominant on the global stage.

    Students will develop a deeper understanding of Belgium, the Netherlands, and Europe as business environments, as markets, and as the base for firms that are leading global industries. Based in Brussels, the headquarters of the European Union, students will have opportunities to consider the unique dynamics within the EU. Topics will include exploring the future of the European economy, key industries in Europe, and how European history has shaped this business culture and context.

    There are certain industries where European firms have played a role of global dominance, ranging from food and beverage (chocolate, brewing, and wine) to pharmaceuticals to diamond trading. Students will have the opportunity to meet with executives in these industries to understand how and why these European firms have played a dominant role in shaping these global industries. Students will also have the opportunity through cultural exploration to develop a deeper understanding of Europe.

    What are the expectations of program participants?

    Students will be highly engaged with speakers, company visits, and case discussions during the week. Thorough preparation for the in-country experience through pre-work and assigned readings will help to maximize the impact of learning once in-country.

    Academic Program Overview

    Global Immersion European Union 2The course will start with four days based in Brussels, the capital of Belgium and the capital of Europe. Brussels plays a central role in global affairs as the headquarters of the European Union and is also the home to the European headquarters of over two-thousand multinational firms. We will use this unique environment to gain perspectives on the broader European context through engagement with executives from institutions such as the European Union, executive search firm Egon Zehnder, the American Chamber of Commerce, and McKinsey & Co.

    Global Immersion European Union 3Students will also learn from executives at leading Belgian firms competing globally. At this stage expected visits would include companies such as AB InBev, Pierre Marcolini (the worldwide chocolate competition winner), and SWIFT, as well as focusing on the Belgian and European business environment with firms such as Recticel and GSK Vaccines. We will meet with Belgian political leaders and experts on the European political economy. In addition to the business engagements, students will gain insights into Belgian culture through visits to the Grand Place (a UNESCO World Heritage Site), Royal Palace, and Sablon antique market. From Brussels, we will make a trip to Antwerp where we will explore the role of the Port of Antwerp, Europe’s third-largest port and a critical shipping point for centuries, the global diamond industry anchored here, and the dynamics of Flemish Belgium including key cultural icons.

    The course will finish with two days in Amsterdam, where we will learn from executives at some European firms, including a visit to the Aalsmeer Flower Auction, the largest flower auction in the world trading more than 20 million flowers from around the globe daily, and global firms such as Shell. Our time in Amsterdam will also include continued exploration of European culture and history through visits to locations such as the Van Gogh Museum, Anne Frank Museum, Rijksmuseum and a tour of the canal system.

    Faculty Lead

    Scott Beardsley


    Arrive: 19 March 2017

    Depart: 24 March 2017