Understanding Geopolitics & pursuing a global career

Gavin Crystal The link between geopolitics and hospitality is complex yet evident. Crystal Cavin, Glion Institute of Higher Education’s faculty expert on geopolitics, talks about why hospitality leaders need to understand geopolitical issues.

Billions lost in international travel

One thing that most people don’t know is how long-term and far-reaching the effects of a geopolitical crisis, or a related terrorism attack, can really be.

“Here are some hard facts: according to the Fiscal Times, over $600 billion dollars have been lost over the last decade due to a decrease in international travel following 9/11.  Other businesses that were affected by this tragic event included airline companies that lost $7 billion alone in 2001, $1.4 billion was lost in the four days that followed the attack when the entire USA was on stand-by.  The increase of airport security meant that domestic travel plummeted as well.  Insurance companies had to face $33 billion in insured losses, a third of which were for property claims,” Crystal said.

The recent attacks around the world and closer to us in Brussels and Paris underline these global threats to the hospitality industry. In addition to measuring the economic impact of these events, understanding the reasons behind them is critical for future professionals in the global travel industry.

Students teach each other

“At Glion, students find themselves in a multi-cultural setting where a Chinese student can share his views on the current economic and political situation to an Italian and Canadian student.  Understanding the situation in Ukraine by asking both a Ukrainian and Russian student to explain may be a bit tense at times, but it opens up the opportunity for dialogue and hopefully understanding,” Crystal said, “The refugee crisis in Europe will look different to an Egyptian, Lebanese or Jordanian student compared to a Greek or Polish student.”

Geopolitics is a complex subject that pushes students to turn their knowledge of other cultures into learning the art of negotiation.

United Nations Simulation games

In the 7th semester “Power, Space and Political Geography” course, students are assigned a country to research and each student is put into a “committee” to prepare for the final assessment, which is a Model UN simulation.  Students work on mock UN committees or councils that deal with economic and social development, security, peacekeeping and human rights.  Students must choose a current geopolitical crisis or issue and write a resolution that addresses it with clear solutions and suggestions.  Students must negotiate with other “delegates” to get them to support their resolutions and in the final sessions, delegates debate each of these mock UN resolutions over a four-hour period.   By being assigned a country they are not familiar with, students are forced to research and understand what is at the heart of their assigned country and what challenges and risks that country faces today in 2016.

Students are pushed to critically analyze and synthesize complex information, to compare and contrast past and present crises and to make predictions.  These thought processes encourage them to engage in “deep thinking”.

This semester, students in the Semester 4 course Contemporary Geopolitical Issues were asked to produce projects that provided an overview of current geopolitical issues for a country or region. This project led to some very eye-catching and interesting websites.

Glion student website - geopolitics

Student reflections

“During the whole course, the learning atmosphere is inspiring.  International students provide many different and interesting points of views, backed up with Mrs. Cavin’s guidelines which helped me to understand the wider picture and made complex topics easier to understand and think about,” said Dino Karic, a student of the Bachelor Degree in Hospitality Management who took the course.

He added, “For me, this course represents what education and university should look like. We were encouraged to participate and share our opinion with the class and every comment was welcomed”.

Learn more about how Glion is preparing the future leaders of the hospitality industry in the Bachelor Degree in Hospitality Management.

References: Jasen, G. (2011, Sept. 9). Economic Cost of 9/11: Three Industries Still Recovering.  Fiscal Times.

Photo By: Unsplash (João Silas)

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