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DePaul’s School of Hospitality Leadership Prepares Students for a Global Industry

Over the past year, the School of Hospitality Leadership at DePaul has increased its efforts to make global engagement a priority in the student experience in both the classroom and in co-curricular activities. From short- and long-term study abroad programs to global learning experiences that create collaborative online learning environments for students, this global engagement strategy fits well with the nature of hospitality and tourism, one of the largest segments of the global economy.

The School of Hospitality Leadership has undertaken two different Global Learning Experiences (GLE), with a third scheduled for this upcoming Spring. Each of previous GLE’s has been led by Dr. Nicholas Thomas and run in conjunction with an academic partner, Professor Yuan “Kate” Liu at the Shandong College of Tourism and Hospitality in Jinan, China.


During the 4-week GLE’s, DePaul students were given a chance to interact, both synchronously and asynchronously using D2L, WeChat, and VoiceThread, with Chinese students to discuss topics such as: differences in U.S. and Chinese customer perceptions in the hospitality landscape, trends surrounding how technology can be used to give firms a competitive advantage, and best practices in managing a culturally diverse workforce.


In addition to short-term study abroad programs to Europe (Switzerland and France) and Asia (Hong Kong, Macau, and Singapore), students recently began participating in a new long-term study abroad program in Italy.


In 2018, the School of Hospitality Leadership partnered with the Florence University of the Arts (FUA) in Florence, Italy to provide a term-long study abroad opportunity for hospitality students. Currently, 14 hospitality students (majors, minors, and a graduate student) are living and studying in the old city center of Florence. They are enrolled in classes ranging from Pairing Food and Wine and Event Management to Italian Renaissance Architecture, Art History, and Consumer Behavior. Most of the classes have an experiential component such as touring a local hotel or a working shift at Ganzo, FUA’s student-managed restaurant, or visiting a local museum.

The students are immersed in Italian life - living in apartments alongside Italian families and shopping in the open markets for groceries. Of course, travel is an important component of their time abroad and they have enjoyed weekend excursions to Venice and the Amalfi coast in their first month. Such international opportunities prepare our students for their careers in hospitality and tourism and tourism by providing a better understanding of and the ability to empathize with the international traveler.

Chicago is recognized as a global destination for hospitality and tourism, and the School of Hospitality Leadership at DePaul is making strides to ensure that students in its program are engaged with this global industry as they prepare for their leadership roles in this dynamic industry.​​