Joint MBA/MA and JD/MA: Hindi Language and Culture Program

An underlying premise of the Lauder Hindi Language & Culture Program curriculum is that effective cross-cultural management requires both a high level of language proficiency, which demonstrates abstract thinking and conceptual communication, and a correspondingly strong understanding of the history, culture, politics, and business practices of India. The curriculum develops both dimensions and prepares students to understand the larger cultural context in which Indian business takes place.

The Hindi Language and Culture courses integrate applied language study and cultural analysis in a comprehensive program made up of the following phases:

May Courses 
Summer Immersion 
Academic Year 

May Courses
Hindi program students take two classes in May, including International Political Economy of Business Environments (INTS 721) with all first-year MBA/MA and JD/MA Lauder students. In addition, the students take the South Asia Area History class (INTS 71X). Students also receive Hindi language instruction and do coursework in May to prepare them for the upcoming overseas summer immersion in June and July. May language course activities are required, and along with the summer immersion, count toward the first academic unit of the INTS Hindi Language and Culture curriculum. Activities related to the Hindi Language and Culture Program include, but are not limited to, a review of important people and events in India’s history; an overview of current economic, social, and political issues; introduction to the business culture and environment in the Hindi-speaking world and relevant business topics; preparation of résumés in Hindi; and one-on-one interviews in Hindi, all of which are geared towards increasing language proficiency and cultural understanding.

Hindi Summer Immersion
A core component of the program is the eight-week summer immersion in Delhi and Mumbai. Students also have the opportunity to take excursions to Jaipur, Agra, Bangalore and Dharamsala. The primary goals of the Hindi summer immersion experience are to advance students’ language proficiency for academic and professional contexts, expand their cultural literacy/knowledge and develop an increased disposition for critical reflection. These are achieved through in-language classroom instruction, seminars, excursions and company visits.
Students complete about 100 hours of in-language classroom instruction focused on economic, social, political and business topics during summer immersion. The content complements the South Asia Area History course from May and provides an opportunity for students to reflect upon the historic, linguistic and cultural context of India. Over the summer, students develop the ability to discuss complex social, political, cultural, and economic issues; develop increasingly formal and culturally appropriate communicative abilities; and work towards obtaining a Superior level of language proficiency as defined by ACTFL guidelines. Students also conduct research and interviews in teams in order to write a short article on a business, economic, cultural, or political topic related to their summer immersion site. These articles are published by Knowledge at Wharton, as part of a new series called the Lauder Global Business Insight Report. Recent articles by students in the Hindi program have included such diverse topics as primary education in rural India and its impact on economy growth, and ethics and corruption in Indian business.

Through a diverse agenda of national and multinational organization visits and guest speakers, students are exposed to the current economic and business landscape and future outlook of the region. While visits may change from year to year, previous visits have included Goldman Sachs, Bain, Reliance Entertainment, Warburg Pincus, Navbharat Times, New Silk Route, Jeevansaathi.com, and a variety of other companies. During these visits, students discuss issues related to specific companies and industries as well as the social and political environments in which they operate.  Students can also expect to participate in cultural activities and gatherings with alumni.

Hindi program students’ internship at Navbharat Times (largest Hindi daily) during the 2011 summer immersion resulted in these articles featured at the newspaper’s front page and editorial section of its July 7th, 2011 edition. In these articles students present their perspectives about the changing face of India.

Academic Year
Upon their return from the immersion program, students complete their academic degree requirements through INTS Hindi Language and Culture Program courses. The program complements the international MBA business and management skills developed at Wharton and in Lauder’s International Studies curriculum to prepare both MBA and JD students to confidently navigate a rapidly changing global economic, political, social and cultural landscape. The Language and Culture Program during each semester of the two-year program includes classroom instruction and specialized activities. Thematic content during the two years typically draw upon political, legal, socio-economic, and market issues; literature, history, and philosophy; contemporary business and industry concerns; arts, film, media, and sports as contemporary expressions of a culture and its values; and issues related to current events. Our small, focused classes emphasize mastery of the language, with the goal of reaching a Superior-level of language proficiency, and develop students’ ability for critical thinking and problem solving within the framework of Indian culture. Students are expected to demonstrate their linguistic proficiency and content awareness through activities that range from debates, presentations, reports, reading and writing assignments and discussions. Some examples of specific themes that may guide the classroom include:

  • Movements and Transitions impacting India: Spatial movements addressing topics of diaspora, urban migration as well as transitions in social attitudes dealing with identity
  • Immigration and Opportunity
  • Politics and Businesses
  • Indian Markets and Consumers
  • Environment and Economic Progress
  • Indian Education System: Challenges and Reforms
  • Role of the India media
  • Media and Business Vs. Media as Business

 In addition to class, students explore the different facets of the target culture in contexts that take them outside the classroom. One example is the spring semester mini immersions. These extended in-language activities vary from year to year but are usually related to the themes of the academic curriculum. Last year’s mini immersion included participation at the Wharton India Economic Forum followed by field work involving interviewing business leaders who have experience running businesses in India and the US.

Lauder students complete their MA degree with a course sequence that includes International Political Economy of Business Environments and the Global Economic History, two approved electives from the School of Arts and Sciences, and the Global Knowledge Lab research project.