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Innovative logistics program earns award

In today’s global marketplace, business graduates may have to work with co-workers scattered across the world — and they may never meet face to face.

So how do you learn how to work on a team with one person in Austria, another in Finland and yet another in China when you’re in Texas?

Dr. Ted Farris Ted Farris, right, professor of logistics in the University of North Texas College of Business, developed a program that earned the Bobby G. Bizzell Innovative Achievement Award from the Southwestern Business Deans’ Association for an innovative way of helping students learn in displaced work groups — or teams with members spread across different locations.

The award, sponsored by Bloomberg Businessweek, was presented at the association’s Annual Meeting this week in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and the UNT program received a cash prize of $1,500.

“I am honored to be recognized for this leading-edge pedagogical innovation,” Farris said. “It goes hand-in-hand with our top five global ranking for research in logistics. We have extended the classroom internationally and are better preparing our graduates to excel in their careers.”

The innovative classroom program is called “Globally Displaced Workgroups: Creating a Real-World Experience in the Classroom.” Farris created the pilot program in Fall 2011 with 167 students from two U.S. and two European universities. Since then, the program has been offered to 1,566 students at 20 universities across the world. In Fall 2014, up to 13 universities in the U.S. and 11 universities from Austria, China, Columbia, France, Italy, Malaysia, Morocco, Peru and the United Kingdom are expected to participate.

Each team consists of students from four universities who work together to solve a case study during a two-week period. While working on their projects, these students deal with the real-world challenges of varying time zones, language obstacles, cultural differences and technology connection issues.

“Farris’ emphasis on developing critical thinking skills has been well received by our industry customers who seek students (who) are well prepared to integrate their specialized functional knowledge immediately into the work place,” Jeffrey Sager, chair of the Department of Marketing and Logistics at UNT, wrote in his nomination of Farris. “Such skills have escalated in import as technology and globally scaled enterprise demand abilities to work closely with supply chain trading partners on a worldwide scale.”

Farris also earned the UNT College of Business Outstanding Teaching Innovation Award this year.

The UNT logistics program was ranked in the top five internationally for research productivity by the International Journal of Physical Distribution and Logistics Management in 2012.

—Ellen Rossetti, News Promotions

Posted on: Wed 11 June 2014

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