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KNOXVILLE — A group of Retail and Consumer Sciences students from the University of Tennessee will get a global view of retail this summer as they travel to London and Poland to take part in the International Retail Industry Study tour.

The trip is part of an academic cooperation agreement between the University of Tennessee and the Cracow University of Economics in Poland.

Both the trip and the agreement align closely with UT’s Ready for the World initiative. The plan aims to increase global and cultural awareness on campus and better prepare our students to compete in the global marketplace.

The tour, May 14-27, will take the students to Auschwitz in Poland, and to Cracow where the UT students will have discussions with Cracow students and faculty about the retail markets of both countries. Both sets of students will prepare presentations on the trends in the retail markets of Poland and the U.S., said Dr. Ann Fairhurst, professor of retail, hospitality and tourism management.

To prepare the students for their visit to Auschwitz, Mira Ryczke Kimmelman, a survivor of the Auschwitz concentration camp who now lives in Oak Ridge, met with the students on May 3 to discuss her life in Poland during the Holocaust.

While in Poland, U.S. Ambassador and former Knoxville mayor Victor Ashe will host the students for several days. Ambassador Ashe has arranged for tours of some of the large premier retail companies in Warsaw where students can study differences in customer service, consumer mentality and other retail trends.

Chancellor Loren Crabtree, Dean Bob Rider of the College of Education, Health and Human Sciences and Fairhurst signed the academic cooperation agreement in December. It will offer exchange programs for faculty and staff members of both institutions and provide opportunities for collaborative research projects, joint seminars and symposia.

“Because of the University’s focus on increasing the international opportunities available to our students through Ready for the World and Poland’s increasing importance in the world marketplace, this was a perfect time to create a lasting partnership,” said Fairhurst.

Fairhurst has had informal contacts with the Cracow institution for many years but she felt that now was the time to formalize an exchange program.


Anne Fairhurst, (865-974-6609,

Beth Gladden, media relations (865-974-9008