QC Economics

COIL at Queens College

Queens College is pleased to announce the launch of Collaborative Online International Learning (COIL): https://coil.qc.cuny.edu/

COIL is a term created by the SUNY COIL Center to describe “the four essential dimensions of real virtual mobility: it is a collaborative exercise of teachers and students; it makes use of online technology and interaction; it has potential international dimensions; and it is integrated into the learning process.”

In keeping with the international goals of Queens College (QC), COIL will offer faculty members the opportunity to learn about Collaborative Online International Learning, to develop strategies for incorporating it into their courses, to advance research with international colleagues, and to expand QC’s global presence.

By collaborating with a global faculty partner and adding a COIL component to a course, faculty allow students to gain cross-cultural skills through virtual interaction and enhance their international opportunities without leaving NYC.

While the COIL component takes place solely online, courses may be face-to-face, hybrid or fully online.
The focus of COIL is global/intercultural fluency, not technology.

Queens College, sub-awardee of prestigious Stevens Initiative award, to implement global learning, civic engagement, and career success with universities in the Middle East and North Africa

Queens College joins LaGuardia Community College (Lead), Borough of Manhattan Community College (BMCC), Guttman Community College, and Hostos Community College to develop and implement an international virtual exchange program Global Scholars Achieving Career Success (GSACS) in partnership with four universities in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA): Abdelmalek Essaâdi University (Morocco), The American University in Cairo (Egypt), Jordan University of Science and Technology (Jordan), and Palestine Ahliya University (Palestinian Territories).

This multinational collaboration is made possible by a $750,000 award from The Stevens Initiative [https://www.stevensinitiative.org/announcing-the-2021-stevens-initiative-grantees/], which is sponsored by the U.S. Department of State, with funding provided by the U.S. Government, and is administered by the Aspen Institute. The Stevens Initiative is also supported by the Bezos Family Foundation and the governments of Morocco and the United Arab Emirates. GSACS will impact over 3,500 students across CUNY and MENA partner institutions, including 400 students at Queens College, over two years.

The GSACS innovative curriculum model uniquely combines UN Sustainable Development Goals with experiential learning and career-readiness activities. The funding will expand and deepen virtual exchange (also known as Collaborative Online International Learning) programming at Queens College (QC) and CUNY by creating equitable, inquiry-based, experiential, and career-oriented global learning opportunities for students.

“We thank The Stevens Initiative for giving our students a valuable opportunity to develop the professional skills and cultural understanding that will prepare them for the global marketplace,” states QC President Frank H. Wu. “At a time when traditional exchange programs aren’t operating, Global Scholars Achieving Career Success enables our students to collaborate virtually with their peers in the Middle East and North Africa, and connects young people in those countries with Queens College’s talented and diverse student body.”

Selected QC faculty and their international partners will receive rigorous professional development in virtual exchange and experiential learning pedagogy before implementing GSACS in their credit-bearing courses. Following professional development, faculty partners will lead their students through collaborative activities that focus on a specific UN Sustainable Development Goal (SDG). Utilizing mobile-friendly platforms, students in each virtual exchange will collaboratively explore a UN SDG through dialogue with peers, professors, and industry experts from the U.S. and MENA region. They will build on this knowledge by engaging with local communities and/or relevant organizations, examining impact of a global issue, and developing solutions at the local, national, and global levels. Each virtual exchange project culminates in international teams presenting their work at a transnational virtual student-led conference. The program concludes with a career development workshop in which participants engage in guided reflection on how their developed competencies translate to career success.

At Queens College, the project will be led by Prof. Schiro Withanachchi, Lecturer of Economics and Director of Business and Liberal Arts (
BALA). She also coordinates Collaborative Online International Learning (COIL) at QC. COIL is a virtual exchange pedagogy for faculty to engage their students with peers abroad through collaborative assignments that build intercultural fluency. Prof. Withanachchi initiated this COIL program in 2017 which has since facilitated over 10 partnerships with international higher education institutions and supported numerous faculty across disciplines.

The QC team includes two content experts, Prof. Ashraf Shady (Elementary and Early Childhood Education) and Prof. Suzanne Strickland (Sociology), and Donna Smith (Interim Director, Learning Commons, Academic Support Center), who will oversee English support workshops. Support will also be provided by the Center for Teaching and Learning under the direction of Prof. Kathleen Mangiapanello and Jean Kelly, as well as the Center for Career Engagement and Internships under the direction of Zavi Gunn.

“This grant extends QC’s COIL initiative by establishing a link between global learning, civic engagement, and career success through cross-cultural collaboration,” states Prof. Withanachchi. “It definitely expands Queens College’s global presence.”

This grant also builds on the effort of the CUNY COIL Working Group represented by Prof. Schiro Withanachchi and other CUNY campus GSACS PIs: Prof. Olga Aksakalova (Lead PI, LaGuardia CC), Ms. Jessica Levin, Experiential Learning and Study Abroad Manager (BMCC), Prof. Grace Pai (Guttman CC), and Prof. Amy Ramson, Esq. (Hostos CC). The Working Group has been spearheading the effort to scale and institutionalize COIL at CUNY.

GSACS has been conceived and designed in the true spirit of collaboration, global solidarity, and shared commitment to global learning and digital internationalization. It cultivates and capitalizes on the strengths of each partner institution.

Congratulations to the Queens College team and all participating institutions!