The Global Office at George Mason seeks to promote and facilitate Globally Networked Learning (GNLE) between Mason and our partners abroad. As Starke-Meyerring and Wilson have noted, GNLE is premised on the development of visionary partnerships and visionary policy. Mason’s Office of Global and International Strategies is commited to assisting the university move forward in both these regards. Globally Networked Learning offers new opportunities for international learning and international experiences. It “breaks with the confines of local classrooms” and “intergrates local and global learning.” Starke-Meyerring and Wilson, Designing Globally Networked Leaning Environments. 2008
Mason has already begun to realize the opportunities inherent in GNLE. Following is an example of Globally Networked courses already in progress:
Dr. Steven A. Barnes, associate professor of Russian history and director of George Mason’s Center for Eurasian Studies, directs a GNL
course with Irina Filatova, professor of African history at the National Research University-Higher School of Economics in Moscow, Russia. The
course is called “Coping with the Aftermath of Violence.” Via video, the course brings students in Russia together in a single classroom with Mason students, where they discuss, using a series of case studies, how states and societies deal with the aftermath of mass violence. Topics include the US South and the aftermath of lynching , South Africa after Apartheid, Russia after Stalinism, and Europe after the Holocaust. This meeting of cultures in an international classroom encourages students to confront their own preconceptions about history, politics, society, and culture while simultaneously developing an understanding of the benefits of doing so.
In 2011, Mason participated in the Center for Collaborative Online International Learning (COIL) project of the State University of New York (SUNY).
George Mason University was among 22 colleges and universities selected to participate in the Institute for Globally Networked Learning with the Humanities, funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities. Each team consisted of faculty, an instructional designer, and international program staff who will work together for the next two years as Institute Fellows. They were joined in the Institute by faculty and staff from 29 international partner institutions from countries across all of the world’s continents except Antarctica. Each of the institute’s participants has made a two-year commitment to actively participate in the project.
The COIL Center’s mission is to develop and implement online collaborative international courses at SUNY as a format for experimental cross-cultural learning, thereby sensitizing participating students to the larger world by deepening their understanding of themselves, the culture, how they are perceived and how they perceive others. These globally networked courses also intensify disciplinary learning in fields where engaging other cultural perspectives is key. COIL builds bridges between study abroad, instructional design and teaching faculty through team-taught courses, thereby promoting, integrating and enhancing international education experiences across the curriculum. The COIL Center also works with international program offices, helping them to integrate technology into their workflow.