Thailand

International Experience, Global Learning

Marketing prof's courses blend academics, practical knowledge

The genesis of Purdue’s involvement with the town of Fulton, Indiana, actually began when Chad Allred, a clinical assistant professor of marketing, took his family on a vacation to Southeast Asia in 2012. There, he encountered the historic, artisanal woodcarving village of Baan Tawai, Thailand.

Allred was saddened to see that economic pressures and globalization prevented these artisans from supporting themselves or their families solely by practicing their craft. Where some would see failure, however, Allred saw opportunity.

He returned to Purdue’s West Lafayette campus and integrated it into his experiential marketing class to focus on building a cohesive brand for the village and sharing it with the world through marketing research, web magazine development and social media.

Chad AllredEventually, that led to a student organization that is run like a consulting firm with one mission: to help Baan Tawai thrive in the modern business world. Students donate their time to help with everything from logistics, sales and marketing to social media.

In addition, Allred has developed an undergraduate/graduate experiential learning initiative — Social Entrepreneurship in Southeast Asia. He and his students collaborate with the students and faculty of North-Chiang Mai University to continue helping Baan Tawai’s economy through a variety of in-class (academic year) and on-site (study abroad) activities that continue to receive local, national and international media attention.

As an educator, Allred sees the student involvement in such projects as much more than a worthy cause. “One of the Purdue Moves initiatives is to increase international experiences and, at the same time, place more emphasis on mentoring students and helping them to use their classroom knowledge in extracurricular activities,” he says. “I can’t think of projects more aligned with that vision than these.”

He also has initiated other experiential learning projects, including an international marketing course that teamed students with www. elevita.com to market products created by impoverished artisans in countries around the world, including Cambodia, India, Peru, the Philippines, Tanzania and Uganda.

Allred’s commitment to experiential learning reflects his professional career, which he began as an electrical engineer at Eyring Research Institute in the mid-1980s designing digital equipment for 3M and Exxon. He then earned an MBA and began his business career at Novell, where for nearly a decade he pioneered innovative alliances, advanced professional associations and managed award-winning services and technologies.

When Allred left industry in the late 1990s to pursue his PhD at Purdue’s Krannert School, he brought that experience into his research and teaching.

“There’s no question that my orientation is a blend of academic and practical,” he says. “Many students leave school with the right skills and tools, but not the right mindset. They don’t always understand that being a manager is different than being a strategist or a tactician.

“That’s perhaps one of the most valuable aspects of experiential learning — taking grand ideas and social challenges and letting students put some teeth into them. Long-term projects like those we’ve initiated in Baan Tawai and Fulton need to have memory and continuity. Each team of students builds on the work of those who preceded them. That gives it more longevity and impact.”

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