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The "hot cities tour" is the shortest course offered by McGill University's Desautels Faculty of Management, but surely ranks among the most intense and rewarding.

On Feb. 16, about 30 undergraduate and MBA students who were selected by an independent panel head to South Africa to meet top business, government and community leaders in Johannesburg, Pretoria, Cape Town and Port Elizabeth.

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Course professor Karl Moore, who arranges access to leading officials, designed the course to run 12 days – of which 10 are on the road. Students complete academic assignments before leaving, throw themselves into the whirlwind sessions while there and wrap up the course with a major "reflection" paper to demonstrate what they have learned from their experience.

For the second year in a row, the students are adding a philanthropic dimension.

Using social media tools such as Twitter, Facebook and YouTube, students will post daily videos and blogs on their website ( to raise $20,000 in 10 days for the Ubuntu Education Fund, a non-profit organization in Port Elizabeth that provides health and educational support to the orphaned and vulnerable children there.

If the fundraising target seems a tall order, think again.

On their "hot cities tour" of India last year, Desautels students worked with the K.C. Mahindra foundation's Nanhi Kali project to raise $18,000 in 10 days – well above the initial target of $10,000 – to help 180 Indian girls improve their education prospects.

"We hear a lot about corporate responsibility in the classroom and how it helps a company think more globally, so why not integrate this into the program," says MBA student Melanie Walsh, who dreamed up the idea last year and is an organizer again this year.

Fellow student Nisha Shankar says she and others learned lessons from last year's hastily-arranged initiative, including how to set up an organizing committee without silos. This year, she says, "We do everything together and make sure everyone shares the responsibility." Also this year, students hope to present the website in several languages – English, French, Hindi and German – to reach more donors.

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The student effort marks a generational change in thinking, observes Prof. Moore.

"My generation flew into Africa on business class, gave a lecture on free markets and 'How you should be like us' and flew home," he says. "[Today's students]fly in the back of the plane with a knapsack and on their arrival roll up their sleeves and say 'How can we help?'"

Kudos for Queen's

In the global competition for students and faculty, business schools often look to international quality assessment bodies for an external seal of approval.

Earlier this month, Queen's University School of Business announced its re-accreditation, for a five-year term, from the European Foundation for Management Development's European Quality Improvement System.

"It's a tremendous honour and recognition of the quality of our programs by the most prestigious accrediting body in the world," says Queen's business school dean David Saunders.

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The re-accreditation process took several months, including a site visit by a four-country panel of experts who examined the school's performance on such measures as research, innovative curriculum and international activities.

Dean Saunders says the EQUIS seal of approval "opens doors unbelievably well for us," allowing the school to further expand partnerships with top global business schools.

Queen's is also recognized by the U.S. Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business, another major quality assessment organization. Last fall, Queen's chose not to renew its membership in the London-based Association of MBAs, which evaluates programs, not schools.

Equity analysts compete

Canadian students aspiring to become investment professionals – those who make recommendations to buy, sell or hold stocks – are in the hunt for global honours in the CFA [Chartered Financial Analysts]Institute Research Challenge.

The international competition, which attracted more than 2,500 students from 546 universities last year, is an educational initiative that combines hands-on learning for students and mentoring by industry professionals to promote ethical equity research.

This week, the Toronto CFA Society selected teams from York University's Schulich School of Business, the Scarborough campus of the University of Toronto, the University of Waterloo and Wilfrid Laurier University for the Ontario finals on March 1.

Each team of three to five students in business and finance assembles a research report on a company – this year it is Onex Corp. – with guidance from an industry mentor. A panel of professionals will evaluate the quality of the student research and presentations, with the winner going to the North American regional finals in April. The global winner will be named the next day in New York.

"We would like to see and help promote good professional behaviour," says Peter Jarvis, executive director of the Toronto CFA Society. "There is no better place to start instilling that when people are just at the beginning of their careers."

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