Knowledge Network

Home / Knowledge Network / Thunderbird Offers 15+ Transdisciplinary Concentrations

Thunderbird Offers 15+ Transdisciplinary Concentrations

March 26, 2019

16 Transdisciplinary Concentrations

Thunderbird and Cronkite School Join Forces to Teach the Power of Data Analysis

Thunderbird has gone through many changes in the last several years not the least of which is its physical move to downtown Phoenix. Now settled in space in the Arizona Center, faculty, staff and students are digging in to life downtown and looking forward to Thunderbird’s new building, which is expected to open in 2021. 

But life in the midst of ASU’s downtown campus brings with it much more than new surroundings. The Thunderbird community has begun to truly benefit from being part of Arizona State University, from the scale and depth of opportunities that come with being part of the #1 most innovative University in the country. 

“In today’s world, it’s no longer sufficient for leaders and managers to understand the fundamentals of their own business. It’s essential that they know how to work across disciplines.” ~ Dr. Lena Booth, Associate Dean of Academic Programs– Click to tweet

Thunderbird’s #1-ranked Master of Global Management now offers 16 concentrations that allow students to build knowledge and practical skills in a variety of disciplines with concentrations from global business and global entrepreneurship, global digital transformation, global affairs, sustainability solutions, integrated healthcare and more.

“In today’s world, it’s no longer sufficient for leaders and managers to understand the fundamentals of their own business. It’s essential that they know how to work across disciplines,” said Dr. Lena Booth, Associate Dean of Academic Programs .

Collaboration with 15 ASU Programs

By joining ASU, Thunderbird is now able to offer transdisciplinary concentrations across schools to supplement the Master’s in Global Management program. Incoming students have the option to focus on one or two concentration areas through collaborations with the Watts College of Public Service and Community Solutions, the Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communications, the Sandra Day O’Connor School of Law, the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts, the College of Health Solutions, among others. 

A transdisciplinary concentration consists of at least 12 credit hours in a specialized elective offered by Thunderbird and various schools across ASU. Students who have already fulfilled a foreign language requirement can choose to use all 12 elective hours to earn a second concentration or to take additional courses within their primary concentration area. 

A 16th concentration is available to students who want to create their own transdisciplinary program. Students can choose to design their own concentration in consultation with their Thunderbird academic advisor.

Journalism & Business Partnership

For some time across ASU and Thunderbird, the goal has been to encourage and enable innovation. By creating the diverse partnerships and deep collaboration of transdisciplinary programs, ASU and Thunderbird are helping to prepare students to meet the world’s existing and emerging challenges.

One example, of the new transdisciplinary approaches is a partnership between Thunderbird and the Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communications to offer the MGM in Digital Audience Strategy. This concentration gives students from both colleges the opportunity to adapt concepts and lessons from outside of their field of experience and to challenge their core proficiencies. 

This Thunderbird-Cronkite transdisciplinary partnership has created a teaching partnership that helps professors and students be more aware of their own industries by seeing them through the eyes of others, more aware of what practices from others industries can offer, more innovative, and increasingly entrepreneurial.

“One example of the new transdisciplinary approach is a partnership between Thunderbird and the Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communications to offer the MGM in Digital Audience Strategy.– Click to tweet

Preethika Sainam, Assistant Professor of Global Marketing at Thunderbird teaches quantitative marketing classes that enhance the analytical piece of the students’ experience. And Cronkite’s Jessica Pucci, an assistant dean and expert in data analysis and audience engagement, teaches the Digital Audience Strategy track.

“Both journalism and business have to understand the global consumer and create a product that is relevant to a global consumer,” Dr. Sainam said. “The way we have designed this MGM track is for students to get the best of both worlds by combining global business skills with area specific niche journalism classes.”

Blending Subjects and Skill Sets

Dr. Sainam said the Thunderbird-Cronkite concentration brings together students with backgrounds in different industries, but also puts students in the same classes who have very different ways of learning. 

Blending business and journalism students increases the range of analytical skills in the classroom, from those who dive into the data eagerly to those who are less quantitatively inclined. 

Exposing analytics skills to non-quantitative students, Dr. Sainam said, lets them apply those skills to their own domain and come to conclusions, creatively visualizing the data for instance in a way that perhaps, other students may have missed. 

“This transdisciplinary focus lets students see how some of the same techniques are used across different disciplines to yield useful insights. It also reinforces concepts they learn in a business class, for instance, in a journalism setting a semester or two later.”

Lessons learned in the Thunderbird-Cronkite transdisciplinary discipline are sure to repeat themselves in other partnerships. “Thunderbird, like Cronkite, wants to offer the best in terms of course breadth and depth to our students,” said Dr. Sainam.

Ideal Workers for the Next Century

Recent research by the Institute of the Future detailed factors that are driving the evolution of our workforce. Among the conclusions in Future Work Skills 2020, the researchers said that “novel and adaptive thinking” (the ability to think beyond what’s been done before) and “transdisciplinary thinking” (the ability to think beyond your functional role) are two of the key traits workers will need to succeed in the future.

Forecaster and author Howard Rheingold told the researchers that “transdisciplinary goes beyond bringing together researchers from different disciplines to work in multidisciplinary teams. It means educating researchers who can speak languages of multiple disciplines.”

“Many of today’s global problems are too complex to be solved by one specialized discipline. Multifaceted problems require transdisciplinary solutions.”–Click to tweet

The study concluded that many of today’s global problems are too complex to be solved by one specialized discipline. Multifaceted problems require transdisciplinary solutions. Throughout the 20thcentury ever-greater specialization was encouraged, but the next century will see transdisciplinary approaches take center stage. 

Ideal workers, the study concluded, bring a deep understanding of at least one field, but have the capacity to communicate concepts from a broader range of disciplines. This will require a sense of curiosity and a willingness to go beyond years of formal education. They will need to be lifelong learners. 

15+ Transdisciplinary Options 

Preparing students for this new workforce is exactly what Thunderbird’s transdisciplinary approach is designed to do. 

“At Thunderbird, we’re preparing transdisciplinary and globally minded leaders with the real-world experience necessary to thrive during the Fourth Industrial Revolution. We’re preparing leaders who will thrive across disciplines in this era of profound change,” Dr. Booth said.

Moving to downtown Phoenix was definitely a big change. But it’s Thunderbird’s relationship with ASU that is opening doors for students, creating enormous opportunities to collaborate with new disciplines and kick start new ways of thinking that will last a lifetime. 

To learn more about the 15 concentrations offered in our No. 1 ranked Master of Global Management – plus the ability to create your own transdisiplinary program – please visit https://thunderbird.asu.edu/degrees/graduate/master-global-management

Get Global Insight in Your Inbox

Join our mailing list