The State University of New York will receive $506,000 to support a SUNY Center for Collaborative Online International Learning (COIL Center) program of outreach and virtual exchange with universities across the Middle East/North Africa (MENA) region, with initial projects in Egypt, Lebanon, and Morocco. The SUNY COIL Center is one of 10 inaugural awardees of The Aspen Institute’s recently launched Stevens Initiative.

The SUNY COIL Center model emphasizes experiential learning by embedding cross-cultural experiences directly into existing curricula at many SUNY campuses. Virtual classrooms created by the SUNY COIL Center engage students and faculty from different parts of the world as they learn and work together across almost all disciplines, at the same time learning to understand and respect each other. Recent course collaborations have been in the areas of Law, Disability Studies, Geography, Computer Science, Graphic Design, Human Rights, and Entrepreneurship.

“The SUNY COIL Center brings our students and faculty together with their counterparts in many countries around the world for a unique virtual classroom experience,” said SUNY Chancellor Nancy L. Zimpher. “Students benefit in equal measure from the curriculum being taught as well as the faculty and students they are learning alongside. Congratulations to the SUNY COIL Center on this much-deserved international recognition and award.”

Jon Rubin, founder and director of the SUNY COIL Center, said, “The Stevens Initiative is the first major funder explicitly focused on supporting virtual exchange and collaborative online international learning. Their ground-breaking work in the MENA region may transform this emerging format of international education by bringing authentic intercultural experiences into the classroom. The COIL Center also thanks SUNY New Paltz, SUNY Cortland, Nassau Community College and Empire State College for linking the COIL Center to university partners in the MENA region that each of these campuses had already developed. This is a real example of cross-fertilization, systemness, and The Power of SUNY.”

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