Maria Ballesteros-Sola and Robin MitchellJune 24, 2019 — Polarization, immigration, sustainability and climate change are among the challenges and similarities California and France share.

Two CSU Channel Islands (CSUCI) faculty members will explore the challenges the state and country have in common at a California State University (CSU) sponsored International Faculty Partnership Seminar in Paris, France this month.

Assistant Professor of Management Maria Ballesteros-Sola, D.B.A, and Assistant Professor of History Robin Mitchell, Ph.D. were among the 23 CSU faculty members from various disciplines who were chosen for the conference.

Among Mitchell’s specialties is 19th-Century French history, so she is eager to participate in presentations on such thing as literature, arts, gender politics, migration and multiculturalism, among other subjects offered at the seminar.

“I have spent years combing through archives in Paris, yet an essential part of learning involves interdisciplinary dialogue with people and places we study,” Mitchell said. “I lived in France for several years as a graduate student, consequently, I understand the nuances and diversity of French culture.”

That said, Mitchell said she has so far lacked the opportunity to make more academic and professional contacts in an international setting, so she’s looking forward to networking with French academics as well as her fellow CSU faculty.

The seminar will cover climate and society; the evolving marketplace; sustainability, migration, cultural legacy and U.S.-France relations.

Ballesteros-Sola will be one of the presenters in the Evolving Marketplace track. She is an expert on Certified B Corporations (B Corps), which are businesses that operate on a day-to-day basis observing environmentally and socially sound principles, such as treating employees well, using sustainable suppliers, etc.

“There are actually more B Corps outside of the U.S. than inside.” Ballesteros-Sola said. “So I’m interested to understand how the sustainable business movement is taking shape in France.”

Both Ballesteros-Sola and Mitchell are advocates for study abroad, and want to explore ways to facilitate as much as possible at CSUCI, especially for students of color, who are underrepresented in study abroad programs, especially in Europe.

“I got a Fulbright scholarship so I know how powerful and transformational living and studying abroad can be,” said Ballesteros-Sola, a native of Madrid who used her Fulbright to study at Boston University.

 “We need to reframe study abroad as something that is not just an indulgence, but foundational to what they are doing in terms of how they move forward in the world,” Mitchell said.

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