Twenty-nine students prepared for the week of intensive study in Madrid by attending lectures at Brandeis on Spanish history culture, given by faculty experts James Fernandez from New York University and Dale Shuger from Columbia University. IBS Director of Planning, Simon Sherrington, notes that over the course of its ten-year history WFC has increasingly focused on advance preparation: “It’s critical in getting the students engaged and interested before the visit takes place.”
As is typical for WFC, this year’s cohort of students was drawn from the Master of Science in Finance (MSF) program and was extremely diverse, representing 10 different nationalities, many different backgrounds, and a wealth of real-world experience. The majority of students in the predominantly part-time Masters program are working professionals, many of them in the field of finance.
Maria Martinez Ojeda, an MSF participant on the program remarks, “The WFC course was a stimulating and interesting learning experience. Its structure gives students a 360 degree perspective of the country, from its history to the present and trends for the future. It allowed me to better understand Spain’s present by looking at its past, and to appreciate how Spain interacts with other countries and with the European Union.”
In its initial years, the WFC was held in cities generally regarded as established international capitals of finance, such as Frankfurt and Tokyo. In recent years, however, the program has focused on locations that have also recently made rapid economic transformations. Spain was selected as the host country this year because of the tremendous changes its economy has seen in the last 30 to 40 years – moving from political and economic isolation under Franco to democracy and membership of the European Union. John Ballantine, the MSF Program Director at IBS notes, “The economic development and progress of Spain is very much tied to the history and culture of the country.”
Besides attending lectures, students enjoyed savoring the rich culture and history of the city of Madrid. Pia Yasuko Rask, also a participant in the program says, “Although I have been to Spain several times, going to the WFC was an eye-opener. Being introduced to the country’s history and economy by some of the best in their field, experiencing the atmosphere of a top Spanish business school, dining at local restaurants, attending a flamenco performance, getting to know my fellow students and IBS professors outside class – it’s something I would definitely do again.”