Indiana State University Newsroom

Students to study entrepreneurship, microfinance in Italy

July 30, 2015

On top of the sights and sounds of Italy, Indiana State University students will delve into how entrepreneurship and microfinance operate in the country during an eight-day trip in August.

Led by Scott College of Business management professor Aruna Chandra and instructor Kim LaGrange, 19 students will travel to Italy, Aug. 1-9, where they will participate in industry/incubator visits and academic presentations at the University of Rome, St. John's University in Rome and visit the European Space Agency.

The trip to Italy is part of a for-credit course on entrepreneurship in Italy designed to provide students a week long immersive experience in a different business culture and context.

Italy won't be a new experience for Zac Chambers, a Master of Business Administration student. Having traveled to the country once before, Chambers is eager to relive Italian hospitality and friendliness while reaping the benefits of a study abroad experience.

"The food was fabulous and the architecture was breathtaking," he said of his first trip to Italy. "It will be exciting to be immersed in the history again because it's a history so rich and long. When I spend time in a culture that is different than my own it causes me to reflect on my behavior and mindset. These reflections, in turn, provide insights and opportunities to achieve future goals."

This will be the third study abroad trip Chandra has led. She took the first group of 11 students to study emerging markets and social entrepreneurship in Brazil in 2013. The following year, she accompanied another group of 10 students to Morocco to look at what it takes to do business in a frontier market. This trip also included a visit to Hassan I University in Settat, one of ISU's Moroccan partner universities.

"There's a lot of work that goes into making sure students' have a unique learning experience combined with the excitement of traveling to another country," Chandra said. "I think that's represented by how the trips have caught on with students."

"By participating in study abroad experiences, students expand their world view. Not only do they learn the geography and history of other countries, being immersed in other cultures helps students develop a greater appreciation for others' lifestyles and values," LaGrange said. "At the university, we are preparing students to become citizens of the world. The likelihood that they will be interacting or working with people from other countries is very high, and studying abroad helps prepare students for success in our increasingly global society."

It takes a year-plus to line up each trip's logistics, Chandra said, including weeks of preparing students for their departure with readings, discussions and orientation sessions.

"As the theory goes, a wet sponge can absorb more water than a dry sponge," Chandra said. "Basically, I'm wetting the sponge by exposing students to readings about the economy, politics and frameworks for entrepreneurship in Italy, so when they get to the location they are receptive to understanding, critiquing, questioning and comparing the environment for business in the context of Italy's unique culture with our situation in the U.S."

Contact: Aruna Chandra, professor of management, Scott College of Business, Indiana State University,

Writer: Betsy Simon, media relations assistant director, Office of Communications and Marketing, Indiana State University, 812-237-7972 or