Hasselberg helps promote Minnesota to European leaders

August 15, 2013

Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton (left) and CSB/SJU professor John Hasselberg talk during the recent trip abroad.

When John Hasselberg created a new course for the Global Business Leadership department, he probably didn't expect to get a trip to Europe out of it.

But that's exactly what happened.

Now, before every faculty member at the College of Saint Benedict and Saint John's University rushes out to have a new course approved by the Curriculum Committee to get a trip to some faraway place, an explanation is in order.

The course that Hasselberg created, "Business in Europe," was approved by the committee last fall. So when word got around that the Minnesota Trade Office was organizing a business delegation led by Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton to Germany, Sweden and Norway in late June, Hasselberg seemed like the right guy to apply.

"I was unaware at the time that there is a strong interest on the part of the new Minnesota Trade Office executive director, Kathleen Motzenbecker, to engage educators in the MTO's activities to build stronger foundations for the future with Minnesota students," Hasselberg said.

"I assume that my experience in Europe and intentions to build experiential learning opportunities for our students factored strongly into their decision to invite me to join the delegation as they probably felt that I would actually be able to put the trip to good use," Hasselberg said.

Hasselberg was one of 35 members in the delegation, and attended all networking and informational gatherings of the group. He also was a member of the five-member education sub-delegation, which included St. Cloud State University President Earl Potter III; Diana Lawson, dean of the Herberger Business School at SCSU; Bruce Peterson, executive dean of academic initiatives at St. Cloud Technical and Community College; and Bhabani Misra, program director of graduate programs in software at the University of St. Thomas, St. Paul.

"The St. Cloud area was, in essence, the education core of the Trade Mission - something that was duly noted by many people over the course of the trip," Hasselberg said.  "The fact that MTO has an office in St. Cloud is a good resource for all of us interested in engaging our students in international trade."

 The education sub-delegation pursued two "significantly separate paths on the mission," Hasselberg said.

"One of them was a day of site visits to three universities in Stockholm, one of which, Södertörn University, is the one I'm working with my colleagues to build exchange relationships with," Hasselberg said. "The other particularly valuable gathering was orchestrated by the U.S. Consulate in Dusseldorf. It gave each of us an opportunity to briefly present our schools to 18 different education organizations and then to meet individually with their representatives."

Deepening the connection, Hasselberg noted that Henrik Bohlin, a member of the faculty at Södertörn, will be a visiting professor at CSB and SJU during spring semester 2014 as the American Scandinavian Foundation (ASF) Swedish Visiting Lecturer. Hasselberg also connected in Oslo with Chris Butters, who was a visiting professor at CSB and SJU in 2009 as an ASF Norwegian Visiting Lecturer.

Hasselberg said he felt the group definitely helped promote Minnesota to European leaders in business, government and academics. While in Europe, Minnesota officials announced the creation of a European office in the Dusseldorf-Cologne area to promote Minnesota exports and foreign direct investment in the state. The American Chamber of Commerce also has an office in Berlin, with representatives in Dusseldorf, to help with internship promotion and development.

"Those are areas we could tap into," Hasselberg said. "There are some strong connections there."

Since returning to Minnesota, Hasselberg has met with CSB and SJU faculty and staff to explore possible internship opportunities in Germany, and had several alumni come forth who are eager to support internships in the country.