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Last modified: Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Former U.S. diplomat among presenters at 15th annual Business Language Conference at IU Bloomington

April 2, 2013

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Michael Guest, former U.S. ambassador to Romania and a State Department diplomat for more than a quarter century, will be one of the speakers at the 15th annual Business Language Conference at Indiana University Bloomington.

The IU Center for International Business Education and Research and a consortium of 33 CIBERs nationwide are hosting the conference, which has as its theme, "The Business of Language: Educating the Next Generation of Global Professionals."

The conference runs Thursday, April 4, to Saturday, April 6. Those in attendance will include language faculty from across North America.

Guest today serves on the board of the National Security Education Program, which supports critical foreign language and overseas study through programs such as the David L. Boren Fellowship, Project GO, Language Training Centers and the Language Flagship Program.

Guest, America's first openly gay, Senate-confirmed ambassador, previously served on the board of the American Foreign Service Association. His career has included a range of executive-level positions in Washington and overseas. His numerous State Department awards include the Charles E. Cobb Award, which is given to the most successful ambassador in trade development.

He is a consultant and speaker on organizational leadership and diversity issues, and he is senior advisor to the Council for Global Equality, a coalition of 21 human rights and LGBT advocacy organizations seeking U.S. support for LGBT-fair policies abroad.

Guest will present at the conference's opening plenary session, "Linguistics and Culture: Unbending the Global Curve," at 8:30 a.m. Friday.

LaVonn Schlegel, managing director of the IU Center for International Business Education and Research, said the conference will focus on how to make the teaching of business language and culture a priority in the academic setting.

"It sounds cliché, but it really is a small world. Doing business today in such a highly connected environment means being able to effectively communicate in the morning with clients in India and in the afternoon with vendors from China," Schlegel said. "Add to that the increased geographic diversity of the corporate workforce and it is clear that being able to navigate cultural and language challenges is no longer an issue saved for those in an international assignment."

Other sessions focus on how the language of business is taught in Arabic, Spanish, French, Chinese and other tongues; the role of mobile devices in developing students' oral communication skills; and how service learning projects help Hispanic entrepreneurs develop their enterprises.

Presenters will include about a dozen faculty from IU's Kelley School of Business and School of Global and International Studies, as well as about 30 scholars from across the country and Canada.

In addition to support from a consortium of Centers for International Business Education and Research, the conference also is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Education Title VI grant program, IU's Inner Asian and Uralic National Resource Center and the IU School of Global and International Studies in the College of Arts and Sciences.