As part of a continuing series on Spring 2015 semester courses that relate to innovation and business, this post spotlights International Business Transactions.

As you read this, you are probably doing so on a device with components from China. You might be wearing clothes made in Bangladesh, sitting on a chair designed in Sweden, sipping a beverage brewed from Brazilian beans. How all these items came to be in your possession in Iowa is an example of the globalized economy we live in and why Professor Maya Steinitz feels so strongly about the importance of International Business Transactions (IBT).

“In my experience, many students who would be well-advised to take IBT are not aware that this course could fit their educational and career goals,” observed Steinitz. “Students interested in doing transactional or corporate work of any kind – in-house or at a private firm – will benefit from this course, as well as students interested in human rights, environmental law, economic development, and international dispute resolution.”

In the course, students learn about the basic features of several cross-border transactions including sales of goods, distributorships, and joint ventures. Students also receive an introduction to the distinctive features of international project finance, international arbitration, and transnational litigation. An important theme of the course is the importance of cross-cultural proficiency. “It is a necessary condition to a successful international business transaction. Cross-cultural proficiency can make or break a deal,” Steinitz explained.

To emphasize that point, as well as to practically illustrate other features of international business transactions, the course has a significant experiential learning component. The class meets once each week for three hours, often for role-plays, simulations, or other hands-on learning activities. It is a course format that Steinitz has developed and refined over the last several years. For example, two years ago she worked with experiential learning consultants to develop customized simulations for the course. Steinitz has also incorporated the flipped classroom concept. “I made some adjustments after last year that should give the course the right combination of in-class and out-of-class work and traditional and experiential learning. We’ll hit the bull’s eye.”

--Jay Stirling | November 5, 2014

Course Description

An introduction to legal and practical issues in international trade and investment, focusing on typical private transactions such as the sale of goods (including the documentary sales transaction, INCOTERMS, letters of credit, agency and distribution); transfer of technology (including franchising and licensing); and direct investment across national borders. The course focuses on the manner in which private international sales, investment and licensing transactions are structured to permit private businesses to minimize and plan for the risks associated with conducting business on a global scale.

Schedule Information

Tuesday | 3:30 pm – 6:30 pm