University of Minnesota
University of Minnesota

Stories and

An International, Interdisciplinary Experience

“I will mix the classes and internship I have here with my studies back home and together this will make me a more complete person who is ready for all of the challenges out there.” Lobosch Pannewitz

Lobosch Pannewitz traveled to the U.S. because he wanted an interdisciplinary educational experience that was not available in Germany. With the UMN's Grand Challenges Curriculum and the Carlson School, he found that.

For Lobosch Pannewitz, deciding to study abroad in the United States was all about options. Specifically, Lobosch wished to have an interdisciplinary college experience that is less common in his native Germany, where greater emphasis is placed on specialized curriculum.

"[In Europe] schools are trying to educate people to be very specialized so they are very good at what they are doing, but then you can lose the big picture," Lobosch explained. "I imagined studying in the United States would cross boundaries and disciplines."

Grand Challenges

Lobosch chose to come to the University of Minnesota as part of an exchange program with his home institute, Freie Universität Berlin. Since it was formed in 1962, the University of Minnesota-Freie Universität Berlin exchange program has become the University's longest continuous exchange program, allowing students from both universities to take advantage of the different learning styles each offers.

Upon arriving at the University of Minnesota, Lobosch quickly began to explore the many opportunities in the University's course catalogue.

He became interested in the University's new Grand Challenges Curriculum, part of the University-wide interdisciplinary initiative that is encouraging research and curriculum to "address the most critical challenges of our state, nation, and world."

"I started to study business because I want to make the world a better place, and the Grand Challenges curriculum addresses the big issues we have right now," Lobosch said.

In his course, entitled "Beyond Atrocity: Political Reconciliation, Collective Memories, and Justice," professors Alejandro Baer (Associate Professor of Sociology and Director of the Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies) and Catherine Guisan (Visiting Assistant Professor of Political Science)  led the class through topics of reconciliation including the Black Reparation Movement, South Africa's Truth and Reconciliation Commission, Spain's transition to democracy, the Israel-Palestine conflict, and the Holocaust.

As a member of the 15-person Grand Challenges class, Lobosch got an experience that was quite different from his school in Germany, where classes ranged between 50 and 500 students. Lobosch believed the small size of his Grand Challenges class allowed the group to form personal relationships and use their unique perspectives to create a rich discussion around sensitive topics.

"The course went better and better the more everyone knew one another and the more we felt comfortable. This was really the class here, and back in Germany, where we had the closest relationship with each other, and we were respecting each other while knowing we had different opinions." he said. "I think everyone can learn a lot from these courses. It is great for self-development and broadening horizons."

For example, when the discussion about the Holocaust began, Lobosch was able to provide insight that helped his classmates better understand the German perspective and "the ongoing burden of the past for new generations of Europeans," according to his instructors.

"In this class, we had a lot of victim and perpetrator discussion," said Lobosch. "Back home, it is 100 percent clear what the German responsibility is… Here, some of the Americans—and some of the other international students—definitely know about, it and they know the outline of the story, but there is less in-depth knowledge, and that led to some very interesting approaches to the questions. One of my classmates asked why my generation—us being three generations after all of this happened—still feels guilty for it… To the American students, it means something different. They probably can't make the connection, and they don't feel connected to it."

In addition to Lobosch, there was also a Korean international student and a Mexican-born student, allowing for the U.S.-born students to gain an understanding of how conflicts are viewed differently around the world.

"[International students and those born outside of the United States] have other conflicts on their minds than we the instructors or our U.S.-born students may have, and thus challenge us to re-think our assumptions and to engage into fresh comparative exercises," said Guisan.

Lessons in Entrepreneurship

In addition to the Grand Challenges curriculum, attending the Carlson School of Management has allowed Lobosch to gain hands-on experiences that he hopes will help him in his future career.

One such tool Lobosch is taking advantage of is the Gary S. Holmes Center for Entrepreneurship's Deluxe E-ternship Program, which places Carlson students in internship positions with entrepreneurial teams. Through the program, Lobosch was matched with local tech startup TechGuru.  In addition to his 16-credit course load, Lobosch spends ten hours each week working with the company's CEO Daniel Moshe.

"Right now, I'm having a look into all of the different businesses and the volunteering work Dan is doing," Lobosch said. "He is giving me a lot of responsibility. At the beginning I was very worried; I'm not a native speaker and I was making some mistakes communicating on email and understanding what he wanted me to do, but he was very patient and so motivating. That keeps me working really hard."

In addition to his involvement in the Deluxe E-ternship program, Lobosch has also taken advantage of the other services that Carlson offers. This spring, Lobosch was part of Carlson's Introduction to Entrepreneurship class where he and his classmates created a product prototype. He has also attended the Carlson-sponsored Luminaries Series lecture featuring Valor Equity Partners' Managing Partner & Chief Investment Officer Antonio Gracias. He also participated in the Carlson School's GLOBE Buddy Program, a program that partners new international students with a current domestic student.

"Everything in Carlson is hands-on; they really try to give you the tools to succeed in the professional environment," Lobosch said. "The opportunities are just stunning."

Looking Forward

Studying abroad has not only improved Lobosch's English and taught him about United States work culture, but has also helped him shape his future plans.

Lobosch will return to Germany next semester to write his final thesis before graduating and attending graduate school. Later, he hopes to apply the entrepreneurial lessons he learned while attending the University of Minnesota by starting his own business.

"I'm very interested in founding my own company later. I think I have so much entrepreneurial spirit in me from all of the events and classes that I've attended here. I'm really ready to go and really want to do it," Lobosch said.

After a year filled with exploring Minnesota, enrolling in a Grand Challenges course, and experiencing entrepreneurship firsthand during his internship, Lobosch believes the international experience he's received at U of M will be applicable in many aspects of his future.

"Back home, you have a great understanding of what the last 200 years of business history and how you could analyze different policies and approaches on a high level… Here [at the Carlson School] you get the practical things you need.

"I have the feeling that this experience will be a great compliment to what I have back home. I will mix the classes and internship I have here with my studies back home and together this will make me a more complete person who is ready for all of the challenges out there," Lobosch said.

Date Published: June 2016