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Virtual Global Education: Not Just Online Courses

Siena, Italy

Siena, Italy (image provided).

With international travel curtailed during the pandemic, SUNY Geneseo has created virtual global education experiences—programs and opportunities for students to engage in meaningful international learning without traveling outside the country.

“Virtual study abroad programs can provide profound experiences without international travel,” says Sam Cardamone, director of study abroad. “In addition, they can generate more equitable access to global learning experiences for our students.”

Geneseo offered a range of international options for Summer 2020, including Italian language study, a virtual internship in Uganda, and the SUNY COIL Global Commons program, six-week, six-credit program to develop intercultural storytelling skills and take action on one of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in partnership with an international community-based or non-governmental organization.

Laura Montes ’22, an anthropology major with a sociomedical sciences minor from Jamaica, NY, found the course on SDG Good Health and Well-Being insightful. “The discussions broadened my knowledge on topics such as health inequalities and global health, and I look forward to working with the PriHEMAC organization in Nigeria,” she says.

Geneseo’s Study Abroad Office offers different kinds of virtual global educational experiences, including virtual classes offered by international partner institutions and virtual international internships. For Fall 2020, course offerings are available with partners in Italy, Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, Tunisia, and Greece; virtual internships are for Ecuador, Morocco, South Africa, Thailand, Vietnam, and Uganda.

The experiences are more than just online courses, says Emily Cole, associate director of study abroad.

“A distinguishing feature of Geneseo’s virtual study abroad program is how it incorporates place into the experiences,” she says. “Students aren’t just learning about the language or culture. Our international partners focus on place by including virtual tours and connections with local experts. Virtual internships allow students to work with people in communities on projects based on local needs, providing real-world, hands-on experience. And in SUNY COIL Global Commons, students took what they learned about intercultural storytelling and applied it to the work organizations are doing with communities around the world, helping them tell their story and giving them materials they can use in their work right now.”

Geneseo’s Study Abroad Office hopes to participate in more SUNY-wide virtual global experiences like the Global Commons program. Their plans also include increasing faculty-led programs, working with international partners to expand course offerings, and extending the courses’ range of credits and time commitments.

“By Fall 2020, students may be able to easily add a virtual global experience right onto their regular semester,” says Cole.

To learn more or apply for Fall 2020 programs, visit Virtual Semester Global Education Programs.


Robyn Rime
Senior Writer & Editor
(585) 245-5529