WHY STUDY LIBERAL ARTS?

LIBERAL ARTS EDUCATION IN AN INTERNATIONAL ENVIRONMENT
This issue presents MUIC’s adherence to liberal arts education in an international environment. We are offering several articles highlighting every major aspect of MUIC’s education philosophy. There is the soon-to-be launched elective system called I-Design that will give students the freedom to utilize their elective credits to further enrich their learning. We’ve also written about the THM Division’s revised curriculum for its (renamed) degree program, Bachelor of Management in Travel and Service Business Entrepreneurship. One of our lecturers wrote about the importance of MUIC’s excellence in providing English language skills to its students. Highlighting MUIC’s internationalization efforts is an article featuring our students, along with inbound exchange students. Several achiever-students also tell us why MUIC makes them “the Best Version of Me.” And finally, business leader Mr. Choak Bulakul discusses the importance of liberal arts education in business. This is complemented by an article pointing out why employers should hire liberal arts graduates.
"MUIC Creates
THE BEST VERSION OF ME"
A Bachelor’s Program for the Changing Times
Designing Your Future with I-Design
Global Exposure
5 Reasons Why Companies Should Hire Liberal Arts Graduates
Liberal Arts and Business
Improving English Skills for the Global Economy

“MUIC Creates the Best Version of Me!”

MUIC’s liberal arts education in an international environment fosters the growth and development of well-rounded students. The following are just six of them sharing with us their experiences:

Mr. Alexander Ty Manoiu, 1st Year Media and Communication

“I’ve met a lot of new friends from 1st year to 4th year through the Welcoming Camp or Rub Nong. I love my MUIC family!”

Ms. Warisara Angie Van Ophaeren, 4th Year International Hospitality Management

“I’m enjoying the advantages offered by the THM program—more knowledge and skills in hospitality, communication, leadership and teamwork. I’ve learned a lot from taking on more responsibilities. I’m confident of a good career in the THM industry.”

Ms. Chantakarn Sukchonmakul, 4th Year, Communication Design

“In MUIC’s CDP program, I’m taught not only how to do design but also to learn about the different approaches to finding an inspiration. In studying design, I learned that I must know my target market, and, in case of any problem, I have to be able to resolve it as well. To create quality work, you should be able to analyze it by being able to know how to break it down into different elements.”

Mr. Palidol Techavejnukul, 3rd Year, Marketing

“In MUIC, I have developed analytical thinking skills along with leadership skills. I can use these for my family business in the future!”

Ms. Tanyada Kitimankul, 3rd Year, Intercultural Studies and Languages

“Studying here has improved my language skills, for example, Chinese. I am now able to interact more with my professors in the Chinese language program. I do not get to learn only the language itself but the culture and the current situation in that particular country. MUIC also offers a summer program in the country of the language you are studying, which, in my opinion, is the most effective way of learning a language.”

Mr. Thitisan Goodburn, 3rd Year Computer Engineering

“There is freedom in the exchange of ideas here in MUIC.”

Internationalization is one of the key characteristics of Mahidol University International College (MUIC). As such, MUIC has a very active exchange studies program where both inbound and outbound students benefit. It also has a Summer Program Abroad program for students pursuing minor studies in foreign language. For this article, we interviewed students who represent these programs.

Global Exposure

Expanding Horizons

For Mr. Bruce Ram Straub, a 20-year-old THM student, doing his exchange studies at Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts was the perfect opportunity to learn more about Switzerland. “I wanted to learn the language and learn more about the Swiss culture. I also want to spend time with my father who lives there.”

So from August to December 2010, Bruce took classes in German IV, Business Economics and Human Resources. “I was nervous and excited at the same time, I thought I would not fit in, but it was much better than I expected—the people were friendly and the teachers were approachable.”

“I went around Switzerland with my Dad and I saw many beautiful places. The two of us also went to Milan, Italy, Monaco and the South of France—Nice, Cannes and St. Tropez on the French Riviera. It was such a wonderful experience for me to go around Europe and see different things in the world.”

Ms. Wittida Chantawichayasuit, 20, who majors in Biological Sciences major and minors in Chemistry, chose to enroll at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. “I was impressed by the in-depth knowledge in science and other academic research opportunities provided by the university,” encouraging her to enroll in Human Anatomy I, Nutrition, Immunology, and Biochemistry.

“I found my classmates and professors to be very friendly and approachable. They were all easy to get along with. No one was judging you for the things that you don’t know, but they all encouraged students to ask questions and be curious at all times. I was impressed by their accessibility that allows students to get the most out of the classes they were taking.

“I got a chance to visit an apple farm called “Sutter’s Ridge Farm” where I learned how to pick apples correctly. Then, the host family and I baked an apple pie together.”

“Being an exchange student gives me a lot of advantages: learn a foreign language and culture, develop myself as a person, gain both soft and hard skills, and know how to effectively communicate with others.”

Global Exposure

Discovering Thailand

Mr. Maxwell Carter Lerner

Major: Business Management

Auburn University, Alabama, USA

Why did you choose to study at MUIC for your exchange program? Why Thailand?

I chose to study in Thailand because it has an exceptionally different culture than what I am used to and I want to experience different ways of everyday life. I chose MUIC because it offers an array of classes I find interesting and the quality of the university is similar to my university back home.

 Three best things about MUIC?

The diversity of the students and teachers. The campus is beautiful. The open space where you can sit and eat with friends.

 Do you have a bucket list for your stay here in Thailand? What are they? And have you ticked some off the list already?

I wanted to see elephants, go to the islands down south, speak ‘nitnoi’ Thai, find favorite restaurants and dishes, go to Jai Fay restaurant in Bangkok, and become friendly with some Thais. I am happy to say I have checked them all off of my bucket list.

Ms. Ashlee Elizabeth Beaver

Major: Criminology and Psychology

Heidelberg University, Tiffin, Ohio, USA

What are your first impressions of Thailand and MUIC?

Thailand has a very laid back culture, which is very different from my everyday life back in America. For MUIC, the students here remind me a lot of what I am used to back at home.

 The best thing about MUIC? Why?

The students. I have made so many friends just by being in courses with students and having them reach out to me because I am an exchange student. They truly have made me feel welcome and I am forever thankful for that.

I know you’ve been here for a little over a month, but do you already have some memorable experiences so far?

I have been to Chiang Mai and Koh Chang and both are extremely beautiful. In Chiang Mai, I was able to go to an Elephant Sanctuary in which we got to see elephants in their natural habitat while learning the importance of letting these animals live as they should without human interaction. I have also been able to visit many temples throughout Bangkok, which have been breathtaking.

Global Exposure

Summer in Spain
By Sirima Sangnark

I’m Sirima Sangnark, an Intercultural Studies and Languages student minoring in Spanish. I received a scholarship grant from MUIC to study Spanish at the University of Santiago de Compostela, Galicia, Spain from August 5 to 30, 2019.

The Spanish course at the university helped me speak Spanish better. We also learned a lot about the Spanish culture.

I met many classmates who came from China, UK, Taiwan and Brazil and they became my friends. This was a great opportunity for me to improve my oral and listening skills and make friends with foreigners.

I stayed with a host family. My host mom was a very warm person. She was very open-minded and generous.

I had a great opportunity to speak Spanish everyday. During weekends, I traveled to other cities like A coruña, Pontevedra and Vigo. I appreciated the beauty of Galicia.

After I came back, I gained more confidence to speak Spanish and do presentations in that language. I can also apply my knowledge in my Spanish literature course. My summer in Spain is the best summer I ever had in my life.

One Month in France

By Ms. Natkamol Im-artes and Ms. Chompunuch Phinyosmosorn

In August last year, the two of us received the Summer Program Abroad scholarship to study in France for a month. The teachers at the Alliance Française in Nice were very kind. The atmosphere in the classroom motivated us to speak out our minds and take part in conversations, which were all in French. There were also excursions to popular places in Nice, discussions with friends from higher levels, and an evening at the cafe where we hung out with French-speaking friends. 

We all loved our host family, who were very friendly and welcoming towards us. We were able to learn more about French culture and lifestyle. Our host families engaged us in conversations during dinner. They recommended places for us to visit or gave us advice for the trips we were going to make. They also helped us improve our written French skills.

We went to Cannes, Eze, Antibes, Menton, Monaco, Villefranche-sur-mer, and we even went on an additional trip to Milan in Italy!

 

 

Liberal Arts and Business

Mr. Choak Bulakul, Group Managing Director and CEO of Farm Chokchai, is credited for expanding their family-owned dairy farm and cattle ranch into related businesses that include animal feed, research and development, tourism, hospitality, retail, restaurant and real estate. He is also an honorary member of the Mahidol University Council and a member of the MUIC Steering Committee.
MUIC 360° interviewed him recently about his thoughts on liberal arts education and its role in business.

On Liberal Arts and Its Function
“Our mind has a logical and an emotional part—thinking and feeling. In order to be happy and live comfortably, we have to equally balance these two sides. If you approach the world purely from a logical or scientific side without involving your emotions, you won’t find happiness in this world. At the same time, you can’t approach the world based only on what you’re feeling because there is a logical side too.
“That’s what liberal arts is all about. It’s about balancing these two worlds.”
“The word that attracted me to liberal arts is ‘philosophy.’ I think a lot of great leaders have a very unique philosophy. When you look at Steve Jobs, at Bill Gates—they understand what humans want, what we are made of. That is how they developed their successful devices. That’s why I think great leaders have to understand the world in a broader spectrum.”

On MUIC’s Liberal Arts Program
“I think MUIC is going in the right direction—developing a flexible liberal arts program that is very unique. It’s like a buffet line where you can just go in and choose whatever you want. But all this must be anchored on a basic philosophy that would provide a foundation to the young students. Without it, then no matter how smart you are or how rich you are, you’d probably fall into a trap.”

How an Entrepreneur Thinks
“Take me as an example. I have a bachelor’s degree in science but I always struggle with detailed instructions. Science is all about step-by-step procedures. However, that is not my approach. There are many ways to deal with different situations.
“For instance, if there is a treasure on the other side of the hill, there’s not just one way to reach that treasure. You can go over the hill, dig under the hill or go around the hill.”

Liberal Arts and Company Policies
“Most of the company policies we have come from some of these basic principles. [As a result] we are one of the few agricultural-based companies [in Thailand] that have been operating for the past 60 years. [We’re still here] because we understand the philosophy behind our business.”

Designing Your Future
with I-Design

It has always been said that adapting to changing circumstances assures survival. As we enter the second decade of the 21st Century, exponential changes in society and technology demand that learning institutions have to be quick to adapt.

Mahidol University International College (MUIC) takes this dictum to heart, which is why the college has come up with the I-Design Elective program which prepares our students for the disruptive world. Starting in September this year, incoming freshmen will be experiencing this innovative change in the MUIC curriculum.

Leveraging MUIC’s strengths, which include providing a liberal arts education in an international environment and our diverse array of multidisciplinary courses—at the same time aiming to provide our students with 21st Century skills through an outcome-based education—MUIC revised its overall curriculum by reassigning academic credits and offering a number of options for electives arranged either by themes or as skills training modules. This is what is now known as I-Design.

I-Design encompasses 16 revised bachelor’s degree programs and one new program. These revised and new programs encompass three special characteristics: Liberal Arts Education, International Program and Outcome-based Education.

I-Design program comprises major courses which provide domain-specific knowledge and skills (i.e. major courses under Finance or Biological Sciences programs). Additionally, the new general education curriculum has been revised to instill in students 21st Century skills. The main defining feature of I-Design is its electives, giving learners a wide array of options for building their micro-credentials.

This is encapsulated in one of our curriculum’s slogan: “A 4-year Degree with More Choices.” To use an analogy, I-Design can be seen as a grocery basket that students could fill up with their choice of elective courses.

Indeed, learners under this program can choose from any of the following I-Design offerings to build their micro-credentials:

Minor

If students choose to spend their I-Design credits on gaining a minor, they can choose from 34 minors offered by MUIC (from Foreign Languages to Applied Data Science to Creative Animation to Food Innovation and Design among others).

Certificate

If students prefer to complete a certificate course, there are 12 certificate courses to choose from (ranging from AI and Analytics to 2D animation to Integrated Advertising to Chemistry).

Major Courses

Or students can choose to enroll in more major courses in their own program (i.e. Business Administration major courses) or have a mix-and-match of major courses from two or three major programs (i.e. Business Administration + Media and Communication + Foreign Language majors).

To stretch it further, students can enroll in major courses offered by other faculties or colleges in Mahidol University like the College of Music or even MUIC’s partner institutions within Thailand and abroad.

Truly, the possibilities are endless—limited only by the student’s decision as to which courses they should pick to help them be prepared for a successful career in the future.

“The concept of I-Design is to offer choices which would result in students being encouraged to think very critically about their future. How they want to plan their future careers. They can also study something that satisfies their curiosity.

“With I-Design, our objective is to promote multidisciplinary learning together with equipping students with micro-credentials. Minors and certificates. And free electives. Or if a student wants to stay with his major, he can choose any courses in his major or another major. We are also open to accommodate courses outside MUIC. Students can take MBA classes (and use them as a) pathway to an MBA degree. The student can also take courses in our partner institutions most of which are overseas.

“(I-Design) allows the students to take control of their learning experience. It would satisfy their curiosity for new knowledge. It would promote critical thinking for the learners. I-Design is designed in such a way that we want the learners to enjoy both the breadth and the depth of the knowledge. MUIC has a very rich curriculum ecosystem. We want the students to take advantage of this great pool of knowledge in whatever ways they want to.”

Curriculum Structure

Major: At least

0
credits

General Education:

0
credits

Free Electives:

0
credits

I-Design Electives:

0
credits

Students can choose from any of these I-Design Elective Categories:

  • Minors offered in MUIC
  • Certificates offered in MUIC
  • Any major courses offered in MUIC
  • Any major courses offered in MU (both undergraduate and graduate level courses)
  • Any major courses offered at partner institutions

5 Reasons Why Companies Should Hire Liberal Arts Graduates

Interdisciplinary Thinking

A liberal arts education gives students opportunities to enroll not only in a minor program but also in as varied a selection of electives as possible, giving them a broad perspective and a holistic point-of-view. The scientists, engineers and finance analysts in an organization can be complemented by their humanities, social science, and literature colleagues.

Interdisciplinary Thinking

A liberal arts education gives students opportunities to enroll not only in a minor program but also in as varied a selection of electives as possible, giving them a broad perspective and a holistic point-of-view. The scientists, engineers and finance analysts in an organization can be complemented by their humanities, social science, and literature colleagues.

Creative

Imbued with creativity, liberal arts graduates can be expected to approach a problem or situation in a different way, entertaining new possibilities and usually coming up with innovative ideas which organizations can benefit from.

Agile Thinkers

Liberal arts graduates are taught how to think, not what to think. Thus, even though they have a general idea of various subject matters, they can easily grasp ideas and, more importantly, successfully solve work-related problems.

Excellent Soft Skills

Sociable by nature, humanities and social science graduates have also learned much about culture and man’s social nature to enable them to work well with each other and equally important, interact successfully with customers and other stakeholders.

Improving English Skills for the Global Economy

By Dr. Sarah O'Malley

Dr. Sarah O'Malley is a faculty member of the English Studies Program, Humanities and Language Division

In an increasingly globalized economy, English language skills are an important tool in capitalising on the opportunities this economy offers. Thailand is a hub for tourists and international businesses, but despite this fact, English language skills in Thailand have fallen for the third year running. Thailand was ranked 74th out of 100 countries in the 2019 English Proficiency Index Report and achieved the third lowest score in Southeast Asia. The report also warns that a lack of English proficiency could impact access to jobs in the tourism industry, which represents around 12% of the Thai economy.

 

The economic value of studying English was recognised by Thai university students in a study conducted for the Asia Pacific Journal of Education. In this 2012 study, 94% of the students surveyed stated that they were learning English in order to find a better job, and 90% agreed that English proficiency was an important part of Thailand’s successful development. With the implementation of the ASEAN Economic Community in 2015, Thai job seekers are now competing with over 600 million people regionally. The development of good English proficiency is a crucial part of maintaining competitiveness in this ever-expanding pool of international job seekers.

The development of these skills through the MUIC English Communication program meets the desire students have expressed to develop their English language skills in order to better compete in this global job market, as well as addressing concerns that a lack of English proficiency could seriously impact access to jobs in the local and regional tourism industry.

The English language education offered at MUIC has been consistently praised by students in the annual reports published by the college, along with positive scores for the expertise and teaching skills of lecturers facilitating the program being given. Including English Communication skills as a core part of all majors at MUIC ensures that students develop the English proficiency skills necessary to compete in a global job market, whatever their field of study or occupation.

The 2012 study conducted for the Asia Pacific Journal of Education also noted the pride students felt in the Thai language and how important it was as a marker of cultural identity. MUIC recognises the importance of English proficiency in developing job prospects, economic development, and intercultural communication, whilst still emphasizing national and regional culture and tradition.

Studying at MUIC allows to students to develop the skills necessary to contribute to the increasingly globalized economy of the 21st Century, whilst also developing an awareness of the unique and important perspectives all cultures bring to this global platform.

The Tourism and Hospitality Management Division of MUIC is launching the Bachelor of Management in Travel and Service Business Entrepreneurship program in September this year. MUIC 360° asked the THM Division’s officials to share with the readers the revised program’s highlights:


Q: What prompted THM Division to heavily revise its program?

A: There are several reasons for the changes:

  • The steady growth in international tourist arrival in Thailand;
  • The growing share of the travel and tourism sector to Thailand’s GDP and resulting increase in industry-related jobs;
  • The change in travel business model from offline to online platform, with the support of digital technology;
  • The new market segmentations (elderly travellers, demands in healthcare and wellness, and others) that require knowledge and understanding regarding their consumer behaviors, expectations, and the development of new travel and tourism products that suit their needs; and
  • New job trends showing that many young graduates want to be entrepreneurs.

 Q: One key word in the program’s name is ‘entrepreneurship.’ Why the focus on this area?

A: The trend among our THM students in these past years, along with the international statistical data, shows the strong demand for entrepreneurship in this generation. Moreover, it happens more often that THM students put up and manage their own business while they are still studying in university. This makes us realize that more courses should support students towards this need.

 Q: What makes the curriculum of this program very unique?

A: Our electives comprise five modules reflecting the five key industries of our focus. They are hotels, restaurants, tourism, event, and health and wellness. Following the study plan, students can graduate within 3 years and one trimester, which is shorter than the traditional curriculum. Within the three-year-period, students can also enroll in courses that are provided under MUIC’s new flexible curriculum structure called I-Design. The I-Design structure allows students to take any available courses that they are interested in from other divisions in MUIC, allowing them to broaden their skills mindset, and experience of subjects in other disciplines.

 Q: Please tell us more about this program’s internship component.

A: We always provide two internships to students as they pose crucial elements for our curriculum. Not only can students gain hands-on experience, they will also be trained and get to practice necessary soft skills for the industry, for instance, problem solving ability, professionalism, service mindset, collaboration within the team and in a multicultural team.

Our in-house internship is provided in the Salaya Pavilion Hotel and Training Centre and the off-campus internship takes place in a company (not only in Thailand, but also abroad) where students would like to gain actual work experience.

What Makes This Bachelor’s Program Unique in Thailand:

  • Has compulsory in-house (internal) and off-campus (external) internships with very high standard of training and promoting competencies
  • Most of our students get offered full-time employment before they finish the external internship, so a large number have jobs before they graduate
  • Has a unique exchange programs with the world’s leading tourism and hotel schools (The University of Queensland in Australia, Hong Kong Polytechnic, and the Chinese University of Hong Kong in Hong Kong, SAR)
  • Has a good collaboration with key players in the industry, including: the Minor Group, Marriott International, Intercontinental Hotel Group, TCEB, DASTA, Mekong Tourism, and Tourism Authority of Thailand
  • MUIC’s THM program is the only one of its kind in Thailand to have been certified by two key organizations—UNWTO TedQual and AUN-QA, guaranteeing the program’s international standard in education.

Career Opportunities

Entrepreneurship: Restaurant owner; hotel owner and operator; event planner and organizer; travel agency and tour operator; health & spa business owner

Corporate/Industry sector: Positions in various hotel, restaurant, functions (sales & marketing, event, HR, revenue management, finance, front office, beverage, kitchen). Managerial level positions in the hotel chain/corporation; spa manager; event planner and organizer; travel agency and tour operator

Government sector: Jobs in tourism organizations such as Tourism Authority of Thailand, jobs in event organizations such as Thailand Convention and Exhibition Bureau (TCEB).

Academic and research: Research department of marketing research firm (on tourist behavior, tourism trends)

Working with the airport and airline industry such as ground or air crews

Content creator, travel blogger, YouTuber

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