Bridging Business and Culture

April 25, 2024
Baylor Students in Florence, Italy

Recently, 20 graduate students from the Hankamer School of Business (HSB) specializing in Accounting and Business Law completed the inaugural Baylor Business Grad in Italy Program.

Over the course of 17 days, these students embarked on a transformative journey split between the captivating cities of Florence and Rome. This wintermester program, which offered participants three credit hours in Financial Statement Analysis, combined academic rigor with immersive cultural experiences.

Under the expert guidance of Program Director and Professor Don Carpenter, students were introduced to the intricate intersections between business and culture in the heart of Italy. 

“Unlike history or art, accounting does not naturally lend itself to studying abroad,” Carpenter said. “However, in Florence and Rome, we discussed how business played a critical role in developing both cities and their splendid art and architecture. Whether discussing the contest and contract negotiations of the Cloth Merchants’ Guild that led to Ghiberti’s baptistry doors in Florence or the Medici funding of the Papal States, we established how business plays a role in shaping culture.” 

During their stay in Florence, the students experienced living in neighborhood apartments in the historic center of the city. Along with their coursework, they participated in different cultural activities like a cooking class and a visit to the Accademia to see Michelangelo’s David. 

After Florence, students stayed in a hotel that was once a monastery in the Trastevere section of Rome. Students explored iconic landmarks such as the Vatican, St. Peter's Basilica and the Coliseum, gaining invaluable insights into the historical and contemporary significance of business in shaping society.

A highlight of the program was a four-day weekend travel break, during which students ventured to diverse destinations including London, Zurich, Stockholm, Naples and Venice. These excursions provided opportunities for cultural immersion and personal growth, further enriching the students' global perspective.

“I had quite a few moments on this program that I’ll remember for years to come: hiking to the top of a hill and seeing the beauty of Florence, breathing in the crisp air of an unknown country for the first time, hearing the bell towers in Switzerland at 6 a.m. while no one other than myself was outside, marveling at the true masterpiece of St. Peter’s Basilica, and biting into my first ever authentic Italian pizza,” Accounting and Business Law graduate student Payton Crowder said. “These moments and many others have shaped me for the better because I have experiences I can hold onto for the rest of my life.”

Not only did this program provide cultural and academic growth for students, but it also gave them the opportunity to create connections they would’ve never had otherwise.  

“I came on this trip alone, not thinking I would make too many friends. Now, I have 19 new friends I have grown so close to,” Crowder said. “Hearing everyone’s story and staying up late into the morning will never fade away. I have learned how to love, care and express concern for people that I have literally just met a little over two weeks ago.” 

With the success of their first year, this program has already been scheduled to repeat next wintermester with another 20 graduate students. 

For those interested in exploring similar opportunities for academic, cultural and personal growth, visit the McBride Center for International Business webpage