SUNY COIL Center Receives $506,000 Stevens Initiative Award for Virtual Exchange

April 11, 2016

Award Brings Students Access to Collaborative Online Classrooms Between SUNY & the Middle East

New York City – 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."

Housed at the Aspen Institute, the Stevens Initiative is a collaboration between the family of Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens, the U.S. Department of State, the Bezos Family Foundation, the MacArthur Foundation, the governments of the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Algeria, and Morocco, Microsoft, Mozilla, GoPro, and Twitter. Learn more at:

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, DC. Its mission is to foster leadership based on enduring values and to provide a nonpartisan venue for dealing with critical issues. The Institute is based in Washington, DC; Aspen, Colorado; and on the Wye River on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. It also has offices in New York City and an international network for partners. Learn more at

About the SUNY COIL Center
The SUNY COIL Center was founded in 2006 as a faculty-led initiative at SUNY's Purchase College with support from SUNY System Administration's Office of International Programs and the SUNY Learning Network. Now based in New York City and a part of the SUNY Office of Global Affairs, the COIL Center currently serves 27 SUNY campuses and a similar number of global partner institutions in the Netherlands, Turkey, Mexico, South Africa, Japan and ten other countries. COIL-enhanced classes may be fully online, or offered in blended formats with traditional face-to-face sessions taking place at both schools, while collaborative student work takes place online.

About the State University of New York
The State University of New York is the largest comprehensive system of higher education in the United States, and more than 95 percent of all New Yorkers live within 30 miles of any one of SUNY’s 64 colleges and universities. Across the system, SUNY has four academic health centers, five hospitals, four medical schools, two dental schools, a law school, the country’s oldest school of maritime, the state’s only college of optometry, and manages one US Department of Energy National Laboratory. In total, SUNY serves about 1.4 million students amongst its entire portfolio of credit- and non-credit-bearing courses and programs, continuing education, and community outreach programs. SUNY oversees nearly a quarter of academic research in New York. Research expenditures system-wide are nearly $1.1 billion in fiscal year 2023, including significant contributions from students and faculty. There are more than three million SUNY alumni worldwide, and one in three New Yorkers with a college degree is a SUNY alum. To learn more about how SUNY creates opportunities, visit

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