John Hedeman International Immersion Experience
Students from the Sustainable Product and Market Development for Subsistence Marketplaces course travel for immersion in the context and to conduct market research during part of the winter break. Students observe households in urban and rural subsistence contexts, as well as retail and wholesale outlets. Students interview low-literate, low-income individuals in urban and rural settings regarding product ideas for group projects. Students also visit educational institutions, non-profit organizations, and corporations engaged in the development of innovative programs and technologies for subsistence contexts. The field trip geared to visiting the environment of the urban and rural poor requires considerable planning and rehearsal, and has been a transformative learning experience for the students. The Spring semester is spent converting concepts to workable prototypes and developing manufacturing, marketing, and business plans.
We have conducted the following international immersions:
- Sustainable Product and Market Development for Subsistence Marketplaces – India, December-January, annually since 2006
- Sustainable Product and Market Development for Subsistence Marketplaces – Tanzania, February 2014, and Argentina, March 2015
- Business-Engineering student research visit – Tanzania, June 2013
- Professional MBA program – India, March 2014, and January 2015
- Entrepreneurs Without Borders – India, March 2014, and January 2015; Argentina, March 2015 and 2016
- Supply Chain Management – India, March or December, annually since 2012
- Numerous visits for individual faculty and students
To learn more about the immersion experience, please see our collection of videos from others who have gone on this trip or view a sample itinerary from the immersion experience in India.
“The immersion trip was an incredible experience – a chance to see business at its best. Interacting with consumers, entrepreneurs, and non-profit workers helped me to understand how to design products and programs for maximum impact. I was amazed at the resourcefulness and creativity I witnessed on the trip.” – Mike Notton, BS (Finance and Accounting), Class of 2009
“The trip to India is the capstone to my MBA experience. In India, I was able to take the knowledge gathered in the classroom and apply it in a context of one of the most important markets in the near future: subsistence marketplaces. Our project team includes engineers, industrial designers, and MBAs. The challenge of making a multi-disciplinary solution to real-world problems in subsistence markets has been the best project that I have been involved with in my graduate school career.” – Noel Vivar, MBA Class of 2008, MS (Civil Engineering)
“Let love heal the world; let love alleviate poverty. Through hard work, education, and inspiration, we all can live in peace and happiness. All that it takes is for those many of us who have already risen to levels of comfort to reach back; to focus, give, and teach to help everyone live free from physical, mental, and spiritually trapped sets. It is possible. I have seen the infinite energy that we all have within ourselves and together as one we can be free. This is what I have learned on my trip to India. We are right there. We are right on the premise all it will take is a continued unconditional love and action.” – William Lee Smith III, MBA Class of 2009
“The Product Development in Subsistence Marketplaces international immersion program gave us unprecedented access to Indian people and their daily lives. Seeing people live full lives with very few material possessions made us reevaluate our excessive consumption and examine what is really necessary to survive. The generosity of the people we met, who had very little, was humbling. Experiencing India on this level is something we will never be able to replicate on our own and will stay with us forever.” – Lynnea Johnson, Associate Director, Illinois CIBER