Ten Penn State World Campus students will travel to Croatia for a nearly week-long immersive experience this month as part of their graduate course work in human resources and employment relations (HRER).

In total, 17 students from Penn State World Campus and University Park enrolled in HRER 897: Comparative Employment Relations – Croatia and the United States will travel from all over the United States and Canada to meet in Zagreb, Croatia. The trip runs from April 16 to 21.

HRER 897 teaches students about human resources and employment relations policies and practices in an international setting. This semester, the course focused on comparing Croatia to the United States. The trip fulfills course credits toward the Master of Professional Studies in Human Resources and Employment Relations.

Trisha Everhart, assistant director of online programs for the School of Labor and Employment Relations, said the course provides students with diverse academic experiences.

“You can read something in a book or watch a video, but to be immersed in that experience is a totally different thing,” she said.

A group of people pose in an office space.
Students visited multiple companies and organizations including 3M.
Penn State

The course instructor, Maja Vidovic, is connected with the Rochester Institute of Technology at the Croatia campus. The institution’s alumni office provides connections with local organizations for students to visit.

The trip includes visits to multiple international businesses and organizations. Students will visit and speak with officials from Coca-Cola; 3M; Infobip, a technology and telecommunications firm; Rimac Automobili, a technology company that manufactures electric vehicles; and Zagrebacka pivovara, a brewery.

“It’s really about talking to the HR staff and the unions to get a feel for their challenges and successes,” Everhart said of the scheduled events.

The trip also includes cultural days in which students experience the people and landscape in real time. One of the excursions includes a wildlife and nature tour of Plitvice Lakes National Park followed by a meeting with HR officials in the park.

“All students have a different learning style,” Everhart said. “Some people learn by doing, and this is the ultimate learn-by-doing experience.”

The online HRER program’s first international trip was in 2017, and this year is the first time the course will travel abroad since the COVID-19 pandemic began. From 2020 to 2022, the program faculty revamped the course to give students a similar international experience virtually through Zoom calls with HR professionals overseas.

“The course shows them that the field is not just limited to the United States. It opens minds and expands the way in which students think,” Everhart said.

The trip is an optional engagement for the fully online program but acts as a way to give students additional opportunities beyond the standard course work. Everhart said the School of Labor and Employment Relations plans to offer a fully virtual course covering policies and practices in South Africa, Brazil, and Japan in the coming semesters so students who cannot travel abroad can gain similar knowledge.

Learn more about the Master of Professional Studies in Human Resources and Employment Relations offered online through Penn State World Campus.