IIE and The Stevens Initiative to Expand Virtual Exchange Between University Students in the U.S., Middle East and North Africa
NEW YORK, November 6, 2017—The Aspen Institute’s Stevens Initiative today announced the award of a 15-month grant to the Institute of International Education (IIE), one of 13 new grants funded through an international competition to use online, collaborative learning to increase cross-cultural understanding and equip young people with the skills needed to thrive in a 21st century economy. The new projects will expand the Initiative’s reach to approximately 30,000 students in 18 countries in the Middle East and North Africa and 31 American states.
IIE is among the second cohort of organizations to receive funding from the Stevens Initiative, an international effort to build career and global competence skills for young people in the United States and the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) by growing and enhancing the field of virtual exchange: online, international, and collaborative learning. The Initiative honors the legacy of Ambassador Chris Stevens, who devoted his life to building bridges between people from different cultures.
Under the Stevens Initiative, IIE’s Harnessing Innovation through Virtual Exchange (HIVE) program will use virtual exchange technology to form peer-to-peer relationships between university students in Egypt, Lebanon, Morocco, the West Bank, and the United States who are enrolled in a diverse range of courses focused on science, technology, engineering, the arts, and math (STEAM). Students will grow their collaboration and communication skills, intercultural understanding, and civic and global engagement by working together to complete small projects.
IIE will draw on its extensive experience designing and managing virtual and in-person exchange activities, longstanding presence, and deep understanding of higher education in MENA, and university networks in both the United States and MENA to launch HIVE.
“Using virtual exchange to link students with their peers through partnerships between universities in the U.S. and MENA, IIE’s HIVE program will provide meaningful international experiences and help students build the 21st century skills they need to become globally-minded leaders”, said Susan Silveus, regional director, IIE Cairo.
Alexandria University in Egypt and Virginia Tech in the United States will participate in HIVE as university partners. Mustafa Y. ElNainay, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Computer and Systems Engineering at Alexandria University and Adjunct Faculty for Electrical and Computer Engineering at Virginia Tech, said, “I believe HIVE will successfully provide access to significant cross-cultural experiences to youth who otherwise may not have the opportunity to engage meaningfully across borders.”
The Initiative's second grant competition was open to U.S. and MENA educational institutions and non-profit organizations. It prioritized virtual exchange projects that focused on science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM); projects that are rooted in project-based learning; projects that support the education of refugees across the MENA region; and projects that propose in-person exchange to complement the virtual learning experience.
;With the support of the Stevens Initiative, young people from the United States, the Middle East, and North Africa are connecting and learning together – gaining important skills while learning about global cultures,” said Elliot Gerson, executive Vice president of Policy and Public Programs, Aspen Institute. “We look forward to working with IIE to scale the initiative to Egypt, Lebanon, Morocco, the West Bank, and six states across the U.S.”
The other Stevens Initiative grantees announced today are:
- Al-Quds University
- An-Najah National University
- Arab Academy for Science, Technology and Maritime Transport
- Arizona State University
- Ball State University
- Johns Hopkins University
- Karam Foundation
- Sister Cities International
- University of Nebraska – Lincoln
- WGBH Educational Foundation
- William Davidson Institute at the University of Michigan
For nearly a century, IIE has been a world leader in international education. IIE works to build more peaceful and equitable societies by advancing scholarship, building economies and promoting access to opportunity. As a not-for-profit with 19 offices and affiliates worldwide, IIE collaborates with a range of corporate, government and foundation partners across the globe to design and manage scholarship, study abroad, workforce training and leadership development programs.
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, CO; and on the Wye River on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. It also has offices in New York City and an international network of partners.
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 governments of the United Arab Emirates and Morocco, and Microsoft, Twitter, Vidyo, and LRNG.
The U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) builds relations between the people of the United States and the people of other countries through academic, cultural, sports, professional and private exchanges, as well as public-private partnerships and mentoring programs. These exchange programs improve foreign relations and strengthen the national security of the United States, support U.S. international leadership, and provide a broad range of domestic benefits by helping break down barriers that often divide us.
The Bezos Family Foundation supports rigorous, inspired learning environments for young people, from birth through high school, to put their education into action. Through investments in research, public awareness, systems building and programs, the foundation works to elevate the field of education and improve life outcomes for all children.