The SUNY COIL Center was awarded the Stevens Initiative Grant in March 2016 to further partnerships and exchange between SUNY and MENA schools. This project is funded by the J. Christopher Stevens Foundation, U.S. State Department, Bezos Family Foundation, the governments of the United Arab Emirates, Morocco, and Algeria, as well as LRNG, Microsoft, Twitter, and Vidyo. The SUNY COIL Center was awarded this grant to increase academic collaboration between MENA and US institutions through COIL-enhanced courses that utilize virtual exchange platforms and project-based asynchronous course design. This Initiative will take place over 21 months and is organized into three cohorts. The goal is to enhance partnerships, facilitate scholarship, and evaluate cross-cultural dialogue and inter-dependent student projects in these credit-bearing courses. To achieve this, the COIL Center has created partnerships with higher education institutions in Lebanon, Egypt, and Morocco.
Pilot courses were launched in the Fall 2016 semester with 7 partnerships that reached over 350 students in 8 institutions. The second round of courses will be launched in February 2017 with 11 partnerships from 10 Institutions, and the final round of courses is anticipated to have 15 partnerships. Each cohort of partnerships will receive instruction through our COIL Course Orientation, attend our COIL Academy, travel to one of our MENA partners’ campuses for a 4-day workshop, and implement, for the first time, a COIL Assessment Model developed largely by Darla Deardorff and the COIL Center Director Jon Rubin, in collaboration with Sarah Guth (Professional Development Lead) and Allison Church (COIL Center Stevens Project Coordinator). With this grant we have been able to apply the full scope of the COIL Center’s professional development program, develop and implement advanced evaluation criteria that address inter-cultural competence, and utilize technology to connect students in geographical areas that have been previously underrepresented in traditional student exchange programs.