‘When I get a little money I buy books; and if any is left I buy food and clothes.’ Such was the appetite for learning of the Dutch philosopher and scholar, Desiderius Erasmus. Born in Rotterdam in the late 1460s, his studies took him to the University of Paris (now the Sorbonne), the University of Cambridge and the University of Turin, and he held teaching position sat Oxford and Leuven. In his native Rotterdam the university was named in his honor, and hosts close to 30,000 students from across Europe and the rest of the world for studies in health, social sciences, economics, law, and philosophy. The Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University (RSM) is one of Europe’s top-ranked business schools, helping students, academics and people in business become a force in positive change. This article includes an interview with the dean of RSM, Professor Ansgar Richter, who clearly shares Desiderius Erasmus’ passion for international education and discovery.
He studied Philosophy and Economics in Germany before continuing his studies at the London School of Economics (LSE) where he earned an MSc in Industrial Relations and Personnel Management, and a PhD in Management. Following his studies, he worked as a management consultant with McKinsey & Company, advising international clients on matters of strategy and organisation, before moving on to faculty positions at business schools in Germany and the UK. At various points in his academic career, Richter was a visiting scholar at Berkeley, Stanford, and INSEAD, and was the dean of Surrey Business School.
Just three months into his new position as the dean at RSM, Ansgar Richter was faced with the impact of Covid-19, and a pandemic that has required universities and business schools around the world to close campuses and deliver classes virtually. Many of the international exchange programs that undergraduate and Masters / MBA students enjoy and with leading schools across Europe, North America, Latina America, Africa, Asia and Oceania are on hold.
But Professor Richter has lost none of his belief in the importance of an international learning experience to develop the world’s future business leaders, and if anything he believes that Covid-19 has reinforced the need for international cooperation to find global solutions for global challenges. Matt Symonds, Forbes, interviewed Ansgar Richter to talk about the some of those challenges, including the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) which RSM has embedded in every aspect of the school, its programs and its culture.
Matt Symonds: Internationalization is deeply engrained at RSM. As you reflect on the impact of the Covid pandemic does internationalization remain a priority for the school and why? What form might it take in the future?
Ansgar Richter: RSM is, and will remain, a truly international school. We have a network of over 170 partner schools worldwide, and we are part of important international networks and communities, such as the CEMS network, the Global Business School Network (GBSN), and many others. We have double degree options with schools such as Bocconi, St. Gallen, ESADE and others that offer outstanding opportunities to students.
The Covid-19 pandemic, combined with current geo-political developments, have actually made schools like ours a more attractive destination for international students, and we see this in rising application numbers. The Netherlands offer a very well-developed healthcare system, a stable and well-governed political environment, and the port city of Rotterdam is known for its vibrant international culture. And our programmes offer outstanding value for money. Internationalization is just part of our DNA. On a political level, the Covid crisis has shown the value of international cooperation and the search for joint solutions. I grew up in Germany in the 1970s and 1980s, at a time when Berlin was divided by a wall, and huge fences and mined areas cut the country apart from North to South. There are still political leaders today who believe you can solve your own social and economic problems by building walls. Nothing could be further from the truth. The SARS-CoV-2 virus doesn’t know any borders, it doesn’t have a nationality. At RSM, our students learn about finding global solutions for global challenges.