Global studies students collaborate with peers in the Middle East through online international learning project

An online collaboration among Wayne State, Baptist University of the Americas and institutions in the Middle East helped students in two states and three countries learn more about empathy, bias and working globally with peers.

The virtual exchange project, "Developing Empathetic Leadership," included students from Wayne State's global studies course "Introduction to Global Issues and Institutions," BUA students in San Antonio, American University of Technology students in Lebanon and American University of Ras Al Khaimah students in United Arab Emirates.

Funded by the Stevens Initiative, an international effort to build global competence and career readiness skills for young people in the U.S., Middle East and North Africa, the project helped students learn about bias and bias-reduction.

Amina Dada, a public health honors major with a business administration minor, says the project helped her learn to work with a diverse group of individuals

"I would recommend to all students, no matter the major, to participate in a virtual international project," she says. "It gives you skills and experience you can take no matter where you go."

Students met in synchronous sessions for four weeks to study the neuroscience of othering, prejudice and empathy. The next phase for the intercultural student teams included creating a program for children to learn about these topics. Teams chose different target age groups and material to teach what they had just learned. One project included a book that helped young children recognize, through the use of animal characters, how empathy across differences benefits all the characters, while a project aimed at high schoolers focused on art as a vehicle for crossing boundaries.

This project was completed during the fall semester 2022, but Collaborative International Online Learning (COIL) is part of many different classes across campus in every academic term. To learn more about virtual international projects, email Nicole Coleman, director of global studies and coordinator for faculty engagement and global learning in the Office of International Programs, at

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