Marketing students gain first-hand global perspective on sustainability practices

Eleven UTRGV students traveled to Germany this summer as part of a two-week study abroad course, ‘Topics in Marketing,’ led by Dr. Reto Felix, assistant marketing professor in the Robert C. Vackar College of Business and Entrepreneurship. The students studied at Leuphana University, in Lüneburg, in northern Germany, but also had opportunities to visit important landmarks, to interact with the people from the region, and to gain critical cultural experiences. (Courtesy Photo)

Eleven UTRGV students traveled to Germany this summer as part of a two-week study abroad course, ‘Topics in Marketing,’ led by Dr. Reto Felix, assistant marketing professor in the Robert C. Vackar College of Business and Entrepreneurship. The students studied at Leuphana University, in Lüneburg, in northern Germany, but also had opportunities to visit important landmarks, to interact with the people from the region, and to gain critical cultural experiences. (Courtesy Photo)

Studying abroad gave me an increased awareness of not only our own personal health, but also of the well-being of our environment on a global scale.

— UTRGV Nursing major Alexandra Torres

By Steven Masso

RIO GRANDE VALLEY, TEXAS – AUG. 8, 2018 – Eleven students from The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley traveled to Germany this summer as part of a two-week study abroad course in marketing.
Dr. Reto Felix, assistant marketing professor in the Robert C. Vackar College of Business and Entrepreneurship, taught the course, called “Topics in Marketing.”

The students studied at Leuphana University, in Lüneburg, located in the northern portion of Germany.

The course itself is a general business class with a strong cultural component, Felix said, and is designed to introduce students to the many facets of a global marketplace. The students had traditional classroom learning at Leuphana University, but also gained the first-hand cultural immersion experience through field trips and excursions.

‘IT’S NOT BETTER OR WORSE; IT’S DIFFERENT’

“The students’ slogan here has been, ‘It’s not better or worse; it’s different,’” Felix said. “Studying abroad is very impactful. You may not remember being in the classroom in five or 10 years, but you will remember studying abroad.”

The group went on several field trips, pedal boating in Schröders Garten, shopping in Berlin, visiting the Neuengamme Concentration Camp Memorial Site, and touring the Autostadt in Wolfsburg, a visitor attraction focused on automobiles.

Alexandra Torres, a UTRGV nursing major from Palmview, said the trip to the Autostadt had a big impact on her.

“They had an exhibit there on sustainability of the environment, where they demonstrated the amount of waste each country produces and the amount of water wasted,” she said. “It was shocking to see it visually, how drastically we are negatively impacting the planet.”

Torres was not the only student moved by the trip to Germany. Carlo Flores, a senior International Business major from McAllen, said it made him rethink his major.

“This trip more or less changed my trajectory, influencing me to pursue an advanced degree in International Relations and Global Affairs,” he said.

Being able to have debates with German students, in their environment, expanded his view on several world issues.

“Having a thorough discussion with master’s students at Leuphana University regarding the tariffs the Trump Administration has placed on EU exports to the United States created a lively discussion,” Flores said. “Having that experience, and listening to the different perspectives, was really quite amazing.” 

ENVIRONMENTAL AWARENESS

Felix emphasized for students that Germany is one of the leading countries for environmental responsibility. For that reason, he said, the culture in Lüneburg was very different from what the students were accustomed to.

“A lot of the buildings don’t have air conditioning, so the students were sweating more than they do in Texas,” he said. “Many people use bicycles and don’t depend on cars. They recycle. They’re willing to walk five minutes to recycle.”

Torres said Germany’s varied approaches to environmental concerns has been an eye opener, and she hopes she can bring some of it back to the Valley.

“Studying abroad gave me an increased awareness of not only our own person health, but also the well-being of our environment on a global scale,” Torres said. “Exercising, eating healthy, as well as recycling and water conservation are part of Germany’s lifestyle, and I strive to adopt that lifestyle and encourage others to do so as well.”

UTRGV STUDENTS – STUDY ABROAD: GERMANY

  • Steffy Cortes Sanches, International Business, Pharr.
  • Valentin Davila, Accounting, Edinburg.
  • Jose De Los Reyes, Management, Brownsville.
  • Carlo Flores, International Business, McAllen.
  • Alexandra Garcia, Marketing, Mission.
  • Orlando Garcia, Biomedical Sciences, Mission.
  • Yesenia Garcia, Accounting, Weslaco.
  • Edward Markowsky, Management, Palmhurst.
  • Anabel Morales, Management, Brownsville.
  • Melissa Ruiz, Management, Brownsville.
  • Alexandra Torres, Nursing, Palmview.

ABOUT UTRGV

The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV) was created by the Texas Legislature in 2013 as the first major public university of the 21st century in Texas. This transformative initiative provided the opportunity to expand educational opportunities in the Rio Grande Valley, including a new School of Medicine, and made it possible for residents of the region to benefit from the Permanent University Fund – a public endowment contributing support to the University of Texas System and other institutions.

UTRGV has campuses and off-campus research and teaching sites throughout the Rio Grande Valley including in Boca Chica Beach, Brownsville (formerly The University of Texas at Brownsville campus), Edinburg (formerly The University of Texas-Pan American campus), Harlingen, McAllen, Port Isabel, Rio Grande City, and South Padre Island. UTRGV, a comprehensive academic institution, enrolled its first class in the fall of 2015, and the School of Medicine welcomed its first class in the summer of 2016.

MEDIA CONTACTS

Steven.Masso01@UTRGV.edu
UTRGV Staff Writer / 956-882-4330

Marci.Caltabiano@UTRGV.edu
UTRGV Director of News and Internal Communications / 956-665-2742