Detroit Mercy Finance professor awarded Fulbright Program fellowship

January 11, 2023

Omid Sabbaghi headshotOmid Sabbaghi, Detroit Mercy professor of Finance and the director of Graduate Business Programs, recently conducted research and taught at Khazar University in Azerbaijan as part of the Fulbright Program. 

Created by Congress in 1946, the Fulbright Program is the United States government’s flagship international educational exchange program. The program provides funding for U.S. academics to teach and study abroad, for academics abroad to work in the U.S., and seeks to help U.S. institutions forge relationships with institutions abroad. 

Sabbaghi had visited Azerbaijan years before he made the decision to apply for a Fulbright. He chose to study there because he wanted to study community engaged financial literacy in a country little studied before.  

“This is what really drew me, I felt it was understudied, I wanted to contribute and learn more about Azerbaijan in a developing country context,” Sabbaghi explained. “It’s a region with a long history, and I was just interested in learning more about Azerbaijan and bringing those experiences to a classroom. 

“I enjoyed connecting with faculty and administration from local universities. For example, I discussed opportunities for future collaboration with one of Azerbaijan’s largest business schools.” 

True to the Fulbright mission, Sabbaghi not only brought new experiences back to his Detroit Mercy classroom, but was able to incorporate practices from his teaching at Detroit Mercy in his classes at Khazar University. 

“My area of study lies at the intersection of sustainable finance and business ethics, and my research project relates to community engaged learning in a global context,” Sabbaghi said. “Specifically, it examines the development of community engaged learning models for business school students in Azerbaijan through partnership with international organizations. 

“In the past we have partnered with Detroit Public Schools, where my students have gone out to provide financial literacy lessons to secondary students. In the fall 2020 term my students provided financial literacy to Loyola High School in Detroit,” Sabbaghi explains. “I was sharing my ideas for similar community-based learning in Azerbaijan.”  

In between teaching graduate classes and working on his research, Sabbaghi learned a lot more about his host country by exploring the museums around the capital city of Beru with his family. 

“There were some very interesting, detailed historical facts about Azerbaijan,” Sabbaghi says. “A lot of these museums provided an account of Azerbaijan’s rich history in the sense of, they have a very long cultural history.”  

Sabbaghi came to Detroit Mercy to teach and study sustainable finance after finishing his doctoral studies at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. He was brought to Detroit Mercy by then Dean Fr. Jerry Cavanaugh, S.J. 

“He was a really inspiring individual,” Sabbaghi says. “When I came to Detroit Mercy, I got this sense that there was this spirit of helping, or trying to help out the students as much as possible.”