Mark Friedman, faculty member for the online Leadership MBA program at Saint Joseph’s, knows the increasing importance of a global perspective in education. Currently living in Latvia with his family, Friedman speaks six languages. He holds a B.A. in Asian Studies from Dartmouth College and a Master of International Affairs from Columbia University.
Tell us about what you do in Latvia.
I teach economics at the International School of Latvia and also run my own business called Third Culture. I provide cross-cultural and related consulting for international business.
One of your former students calls your intercultural experience “astounding” and says it makes the course material very real.
I have lived in France, Italy, Israel, Singapore, Taiwan, Canada and Indonesia. I developed both courses I teach online, Economics and Cross-Cultural Leadership, and always include my own photos from within and outside the United States. I try to build a story that is complemented by photos. The world, once so distant and mysterious, is now practically in our backyards. Tomorrow, the world will be knocking on our front door … My sense is that many students interact quite a bit with people from other cultures.
Why is a global perspective so important?
It’s basic survival! Wealth and power are shifting and, I’m sorry to say, probably away from the U.S. We’ve run up goshzillions in debt, engaged in a couple of hugely expensive wars, allowed tons of jobs to go overseas, and have a private healthcare system that costs an arm and a leg. The good news? Americans are a creative, industrious, freedom-loving people who, I hope, have only wandered off course temporarily. But, I do think it will become increasingly more challenging to stay insular and domestically focused.
What’s your favorite part of teaching online?
There’s time to think! I often get flustered in the physical classroom where there are so many distractions … that makes communication more difficult. Online gives you time to get the communication just right.
What’s your favorite country to live in?
Indonesia. The food is delicious, the scenery is spectacular, and the culture is very rich – painting, dance, music, sculpture, architecture, drama, literature – you name it! Plus, I like the laid-back attitude of Indonesians.
And your least favorite?
New York City. It’s a country, isn’t it? There were too many cockroaches in my grad school student apartment.
by Alanna Conn