Global Village on the Move is an intensive leadership experience inspired by the Iacocca Institute’s signature Global Village program

Nearly 100 participants from four dozen countries gathered in Istanbul for a week as part of Global Village on the Move, a program of Lehigh University’s Iacocca Institute that provides focused learning experiences at dynamic locations throughout the world.

The program was held in Turkey's largest city from Nov. 6 to 17 as part of a collaboration between the Iacocca Institute and American Councils for International Education, supported by funding from the U.S. Department of State.

“It was such a pleasure to provide the workshop to future leaders from so many countries,” said Bill Hunter, Director of Fellowship Advising and U.N. Programs at Lehigh’s Office of International Affairs. “Working with such amazing young professionals gives me assurance that our world is in good hands.”

Global Village on the Move is an intensive leadership experience inspired by the Iacocca Institute’s signature Global Village program. It takes its participants into unique business and cultural environments, combining worldwide connections and cross-cultural engagement with leadership development and collaborative team projects.

“I am speechless at the length, scope, and outcomes of this program that have left an incredible mark on all of the participants,” said Marko Delić, who participated in the Istanbul program. “Global Village on the Move might well be one in a million events that have a long-lasting positive impact and is the hope we all need for a better future.”

Sustainable Development Goals

A group of people posing for a photo in Istanbul

The program used a framework built on the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals and challenged participants to use Turkey as a case study to understand those goals and how they can be achieved and strengthened, according to Iacocca Institute Executive Director Scott Koerwer, who also participated in the Istanbul program.

This was achieved through a series of simulations, site visits, guest presenters, and lectures. “We provided a wide range of a exceptionally qualified and inspirational speakers, many of them offering both a Turkish perspective, and a global perspective as well,” said Hunter, who served as Global Village on the Move’s academic director in Istanbul.

“Basically, if you name a country, I definitely know a person that lives there now, because so many different countries were represented at Global Village on the Move,” said participant Fawz Elbeshti, who is originally from Libya, and is a second-year biomedical engineering student at Ankara University in Turkey. “The global perspective was that comprehensive.”

The participants visited businesses like Eczacıbaşı Yapı Gereçleri, a ceramic sanitary-ware manufacturer; Kastamonu Entegre, a wood-based housing products company; and Türkiye'nin Otomobili Girişim Grubu (Togg), the nation’s interjection into the electric vehicle industry and a leader in sustainable transportation.

Site Visits in Istanbul

Among the site visits was a trip to Hayata Sarıl Lokantası (“Embrace Life Restaurant”), a restaurant that helps people experiencing homelessness or food insecurity in Istanbul, where the participants spoke to founder Ayşe Tükrükçü about her work helping those in Istanbul experiencing food insecurity, Hunter said.

They also visited the İlk Adım Women’s Cooperative to learn about grassroots efforts to attain gender equity in Turkey, as well as Nahıl Upcycling Center to learn about the circular economy in Turkey and the transformation of waste materials and by-products into new materials.

“This program is not only beneficial for others attending in the program, but for the world,” said Delić, who works as marketing manager for DreamApply. “It causes a chain reaction that can have a global impact, because we all return to our respective countries or places of employment, and continue to use what we learn to make the world a better place.”

Hunter said the next step is for the Iacocca Institute and the Lehigh University/United Nations Partnership to explore developing similar models around the world. The LU/UN Partnership regularly provides opportunities for the Lehigh community to attend U.N. conferences, meet with ambassadors, pursue U.N. internships, and more.

“I think we've got a unique model that is built on the strength of our Iacocca Institute and the UN partnership to form this really interesting collaborative that now has global reach,” Hunter said.

Bringing the World Together

American Councils selected the Global Village on the Move learners from the alumni of other programs they have previously delivered. In addition to Hunter and Koerwer, Iacocca Institute Program Director Carrie Duncan helped organize and plan the Istanbul program.

Koerwer shared a case study with the participants called “When Good Teams Go Wrong,” about the Nut Island sewage plant in Quincy, Mass. that inadvertently pumped millions of gallons of sewage into the harbor. Although the team of employees were highly skilled, analysts found they were isolated from its top managers, a phenomena now known as the “Nut Island effect.”

Several of the guides and coaches from Global Village on the Move were alumni of the Iacocca Institute’s Global Village, an intensive, immersive Lehigh program that teaches entrepreneurship and leadership skills. Global Village has an alumni network of more than 2,550 leaders from more than 140 countries.

“It was truly a global village, where barriers became pathways, and challenges became opportunities,” Hunter said of the Istanbul program. “Lehigh really does bring the world together.”