Campus: CSU Northridge -- August 15, 2005

CSUN to Develop New Program Focusing on International Trade

The U.S. Department of Education has awarded Cal State Northridge's College of Business and Economics a $150,000 grant to develop a new undergraduate program that focuses on international trade.

The grant also supports the development and implementation of an export consulting course in which students would assist local businesses as they expand their outreach internationally.

"Getting the grant is very exciting," said Rafi Efrat, director of CSUN's International Business Program. "We are well positioned here at the university to capitalize on this new opportunity. Cal State Northridge is located centrally in one of the busiest ports in the country, if not the world. There is so much activity in the area of international trade. We are in a position to provide not only a solid education to our students, but also a much-needed service to the business community by helping them to promote exports."

Efrat said recent surveys indicated that local businesses would welcome assistance from the university as they expand into international trade.

"We did a needs assessment before we submitted the request for the grant," he said. "We asked small- and medium-sized companies whether or not they would find it of use to obtain support from the university to expand their business abroad through exporting. We got quite a favorable response."

Efrat pointed out that there is no export consulting mechanism available in the San Fernando Valley. The closest ones are in Pasadena or in Los Angeles' South Bay area.

Given the responses to the needs assessment, Efrat decided to develop an undergraduate program, in collaboration with CSUN's Roland Tseng College of Extended Learning, focusing on international trade with a community service-learning component that would provide export consulting to local businesses. He asked the U.S. Department of Education for seed money to start. The program and class are expected to begin next spring.

Efrat said the export consulting classes will be taught by faculty who are also practitioners in the area of international trade. Students will spend approximately eight weeks of the semester learning the "nuts and bolts" of international trade.

"Up to that point, they will have been learning the theory behind international trade in their classes, now it will be time to apply what they've learned to the real world," he said.

About mid way through the semester, the students will be divided up into teams and assigned to a small- or medium-sized business entrepreneur who is looking for assistance in expanding his or her company internationally.

"The students, mentored by their faculty member, may be doing anything from developing an expert plan to doing market research to developing a strategy to penetrating a particular market abroad," Efrat said.

For more information about the new international trade program, call (818) 677-6211 or visit the Web site

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