24th Annual VCU International Business Forum

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When: Wed., Oct. 24 @ 3:30 p.m. - 5:30 p.m.
Host: Department of Marketing
Additional Host: VCU School of Business Center for International Business Advancement and the VCU Richard T. Robertson School of Media and Culture
Event contact: Van R. Wood, Ph.D., Office: (804) 828-1746, Mobile: (804) 519-2022, vrwood@vcu.edu
Audience: Graduate students, Undergraduate students, Alumni, Business community, Prospective graduate students, Prospective undergraduate students
Building: University Student Commons Ballroom
Address: 907 Floyd Avenue

24th Annual VCU International Business Forum
The Global Influence of Social Media On Business, Politics and Culture: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

This year, we will gather to hear and interact with four social media experts – one from England (Mr. John Worthington – representing international business), one from the Washington D.C.  (Mr. Emerson Brooking – representing the political/cultural arena), and two from academics/local business (Mr. Mohan “Butch” Sarma and Ms. Christina Dick).   

They will explore how social media (e.g., Baidu Tieba, Facebook, Google+, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Snapchat, Tumblr, Twitter, Viber, VK, WeChat, Weibo, WhatsApp, Wikia, and the Internet in general) with billions of registered users has come to be a powerful tool for the good (wealth creative, social justice), for the bad (cyber/con-artists, viral infections) and for the ugly (fabricated news, thought police, political manipulation). 

Generously sponsored by Universal Corporation. The forum is free and open to all. Reception to follow at VCU School of Business Snead Hall from 5:30 - 7:00 p.m. No registration needed.

Live Video Watch our live video feed 

Social Hashtag #VCUIBF

Forum message from Dr. Van Wood:

Virginia Commonwealth University established the International Business Forum in 1994 for the explicit purpose of making students, faculty and the Virginia community at – large more aware of global commerce and the related international forces that shape our business, political and cultural environments. During the last 24 years, our planet has changed dramatically. The world now has the largest generation of young people (ages 10 – 24) ever.  The proportion of people living in extreme poverty has been cut in half.  Life expectancy has increased by 5.2 years (growing from 64.8 years to 70 years). And the Internet has transformed our world in extraordinary ways.

In 1994, by some estimates, there were less than 10,000 websites and only two million computers connected to the Internet. Currently, there are more than 45 billion web pages, and roughly four billion web users. In the mid- ‘90s, the Internet was mostly used by scientists and scholars. Now, business, politics and cultures are all Internet influenced and Internet dependent. And social media is the primary facilitator of such influence and dependence. 

Advances in Internet technology and social media options have made our world more interconnected and more precipitous. With this comes opportunities and challenges. In the business arena, the Internet allows companies to be “born-global,” and social media facilitates international commerce from day one. Thus, both beneficial and perilous products can be rapidly marketed around the world. In the political arena, the Internet and social media can disseminate ancient and modern ideologies (both noble and depraved) to the masses instantly. In the cultural arena, the Internet and social media can spread understanding and tolerance or bigotry and prejudice.

As we all know, “fake” news is alive and well and it can be spread virally by social media. Truth and reality distortion can mislead consumers (and voters), twist ideas, divide people, undermine commerce and weaken democracies. Disseminators of fake news tend to be sensationalist, and social media offers them an efficient and impactful means to get their falsehoods, dogma and distortion out to the world rapidly (in America, 67% of the population now get some or all of their news – real and fake - using social media platforms). Facebook, Instagram and Twitter have been used by conspiracy theorists to peddled bogus news including - the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting was a hoax; Chobani’s Idaho yogurt factory was responsible for the rise in new tuberculosis cases; and Hurricane Irma, which decimated the Caribbean in 2017 was “geo-engineered.” In 2016, an armed man drove from North Carolina and opened fire at the Washington D.C. Pizzeria.  He claimed on-line stories had verified the pizzeria’s basement was hosting a pedophile ring run by Democratic Party leaders.   The pizzeria didn’t have a basement and only sold pizzas. Similar examples can easily be found around the world.  

Social media today, with its billions of registered users has come to be a powerful tool for the good (wealth creation, social justice), the bad (cyber/con-artists, viral infections), and the ugly (cultural disintegration, thought police, political manipulation).

I hope a clear perspective will be painted in the forum, one that allows all to understand both the virtuous and malevolent sides of social media.  Today we may blame Facebook and Twitter or web racketeers in Russia for the spread of misinformation, but at some level it comes down to each of us having the baseline ability to discern fact from fiction and truth from fabrication.  Likewise, it is incumbent upon us all to have some level of social media skill to do well (create wealth), while also doing good (making our planet a better place for the next generations that follow).  Indeed, having a well-informed social media citizenry, may be as important to our survival and prosperity as having clean air and water.

A question and answer discussion will follow the panel members’ prepared remarks. I encourage you to join the discussion. 

Van R. Wood, Ph.D.
Host - VCU International Business Forum
Philip Morris Endowed Chair in International Business and Professor of International Marketing
Director – VCU School of Business Center for International Business Advancement (CIBA)
Virginia Commonwealth University
School of Business
Richmond, Virginia, U.S.A.


Dr. Van Wood
Professor of International Marketing and Philip Morris Endowed Chair in International Business

Virginia Commonwealth University School of Business
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Emmerson T. Brooking
Writer and student of international security policy

Most recently a Research Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations
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John Worthington

IBT Online
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Christina Dick

TFB Agency
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Butch Sarma
Director and Entrepreneur

VCU Executive MBA program
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