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An Online ‘Moon Shot’ for the Developing World

An Online ‘Moon Shot’ for the Developing World

Inside Higher Ed

Suzanne Smalley
January 21, 2022
A new, free online certificate program from Arizona State’s Thunderbird School of Global Management will be offered in 40 languages and seeks to reach refugees, women and others in the developing world.
The Thunderbird School of Global Management at Arizona State University plans to launch a new global management and entrepreneurship online certificate program that will offer five free online business courses in 40 languages worldwide and aims to reach 100 million learners by 2030, 70 percent of them women.
The program was announced by the university Thursday and will be funded by a $25 million alumni gift matched by in-kind donations from the business school and the university, which will bring the business school at least halfway to the $100 million goal for launching the program across the next two years, said Sanjeev Khagram, dean of the business school.
Khagram said the program is a natural extension of Thunderbird, which calls itself the most global and digital management and leadership academy in the world. With the new program, the school’s administrators hope to catapult people in the developing world into business careers and entrepreneurship by showing them what’s possible. Khagram said officials are particularly focused on reaching an estimated 26 million refugees worldwide.
People who enroll will earn a badge for each course taken, and if they complete all five courses in the program, they will receive an executive certificate. Khagram said he is working with the university to ensure the certificate can be converted for college credits. He noted that Thunderbird professors will help design and teach the courses, but the program will include supplemental professors from various regions in the world “for cameos” to ensure courses are culturally appropriate.
Khagram said he expects there to be many doubters of the plan, given the sweep of the program’s ambitions, but he believes Thunderbird’s long experience in online education and in reaching international students equips it for the challenge.
“We’ve been working on these things for a long time,” Khagram said. “We’re not a start-up here. We already have thought through a lot of how to use AI, how to use mobile technology, how to get internet access to students all over the world, including Africa.”
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