Virginia Tech has received a $178,000 federal grant to develop an international business education program focused on East Asia.

The U.S. Department of Education grant, to be awarded over two years, will fund a proposal developed by Svetlana Filiatreau, international programs director of the Pamplin College of Business, and Janell Watson, professor of French and chair of the Department of Modern and Classical Languages and Literatures of the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences.

The program will integrate the study of Chinese and Korean languages and cultures through coursework in Blacksburg and online, study abroad, and internships with Asian-owned companies in the U.S. and companies located in China and South Korea. 

In the 2017-18 academic year, Pamplin piloted a new summer study-abroad program in China and collaborated with George Mason University’s sports management program to deliver a 2018 Winter Olympics study-abroad program in South Korea.

Pamplin’s 12 faculty-led study-abroad programs this winter, next spring, and next summer include programs in Southeast Asia and China as well as semester-long programs (in partnership with other institutions) in China, South Korea, Singapore, and other parts of the Asia-Pacific region.

“The new East Asia focus will strengthen our international business minor in both scope and access,” said Filiatreau. 

The study of international business, she said, has typically benefited only business students and primarily focused on European languages, if language study was required at all. “The international business minor, historically restricted to business majors, will be open to all Virginia Tech students.”

Filiatreau noted Virginia is among the U.S. states with large numbers of residents of Korean ancestry and that the state’s economy has benefited from growing foreign direct investment from China and South Korea. 

Referring to Virginia Tech’s commitment to internationalization, Watson said the university has positioned itself as a global land-grant institution whose central mission is to serve Virginia, the nation, and the world community. 

Virginia Tech recently invested in new faculty and staff lines that advance international business education, she said. “The new grant will provide the necessary seed funding for program development and expansion objectives that will help the university more fully realize the benefits of its own investments.”

Assistant professors Tingting Zhao and Ming Chew Teo will develop the online language courses and train adjuncts to teach them, Watson said.