NAU selected for International Learning Grant

Currently, Flagstaff has five sister cities around the globe including Barnaul in Russia and Tres de Febrero in Argentina. Now it can add an unofficial sixth city—well, country, actually—in Japan. Northern Arizona University has just announced its collaboration with the Far East country as part of the U.S.-Japan COIL Initiative, a program that aims to expand higher education ties between the two countries.

NAU was one of only six universities in the United States picked to join the effort and link up with fellow schools in Japan. COIL (Collaborative Online International Learning) will link faculty and students for shared teaching and learning using online communication tools.

NAU is partnering alongside Kyushu University in Fukuoka, a southwestern Japanese university. Faculty members from both schools will collaborate to develop a joint syllabus for science courses specifically outlined for COIL. The courses will be offered starting in 2019, at which point the second phase will kick in, which is getting students from both nations underway on completing assignments.

“As the globe continues to become more interconnected, the need to provide innovative and international educational opportunities to students is critical,” says Daniel Palm, associate vice president for global initiatives at the university. “NAU has taken bold steps to provide students with opportunities to engage globally through the Interdisciplinary Global Program (IGP).”

The COIL program will put a big emphasis on technology and how it is being used to streamline conversations between two schools on opposite ends of the earth. NAU will send three people to participate in a workshop in Washington, D.C. this October. Members from all universities involved, both American and Japanese, will come together to build out curriculum and toss around ideas for the 2019 courses.

The American Council on Education (ACE) was the driving force and the ultimate decider in selecting NAU and five other American schools for the COIL program. ACE administered a competitive process for selecting the six universities and NAU managed to land a top spot. The other American universities include:

  • DePaul University
  • James Madison University
  • City University of New York College of Staten Island
  • Sinclair Community College (Ohio)
  • University of Wisconsin—La Crosse

The idea originated at the State University of New York’s (SUNY) COIL Center, which promoted a cost-effective and accessible way to connect universities and programs with educational partners from across the globe. SUNY will have its hands in this version of the COIL method, which includes NAU’s participation.

The goal of the initiative is to have students “sharpen their cultural competency skills and become better prepared for in-person education exchanges,” according to a statement by ACE. This round is a test round, of sorts. If all goes well, ACE will use it as a template for expanding to other universities and other countries.

“My hope is that this COIL experience will be transformative for the students and faculty involved,” adds Palm. “To see the world as a learning opportunity that will enrich their academic experience, preparing them to be successful entrepreneurs, teachers and leaders of tomorrow both here in Arizona and beyond.”

Nick Esquer

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