Class debate on global accounting standards brings complex issue to life.

“Should the United States adopt the International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) now being used by more than 100 countries?”

That thorny question challenged the 32 students in the Global Accounting, Auditing and Financial Strategy course taught by Stephen Lin in the Master of Accounting (MACC) program in the College of Business Administration at Florida International University (FIU).

Each of two groups selected four classmates to present their side and supported them by doing research and bringing important points to their attention during the debate. School of Accounting faculty members Kenneth Henry, John Wang and Andrew Sbaraglia, along with Lin, determined that the team speaking against the adoption had made the stronger case.

The four School of Accounting faculty members who judged the debate, from left to right: Kenneth Henry, Stephen Lin, Andrew Sbaraglia and John Wang

“We felt they were well prepared, listened to other group’s arguments and provided more critical points,” said Lin, who organized the debate as a “way to increase awareness of the adoption of the standards around the world and to show what a major transition this is going to be for the United States.”

Students apply and gain experience.

“It was really interesting, got everyone to participate and enabled us to bring out all the important points,” said Roberto Montero (MACC ’10, BACC ’08), who received one of three awards for performance excellence and who credits having taken a speech class as an undergraduate with helping “me not be nervous, make eye contact, speak slowly.”

Stephen Lin and Roberto Montero

His own prior research also helped.

“I feel the adoption is coming and because of that, I knew the arguments for it, which helped us prepare counter-arguments,” he said.

The debate was part of a prestigious curriculum grant from PricewaterhouseCoopers Charitable Foundation awarded to Lin, Wang and their colleague Abhijit Barua for their proposal “Integrating IFRS in both accounting-major undergraduate and MACC programs at FIU.”

In 2009, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) released its “Roadmap for the Potential Use of Financial Statements Prepared in Accordance with IFRS by U.S. Issuers.” Lin was part of a select research group of four academics invited by the chair of the American Accounting Association to evaluate it.

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