The SUNY COIL Global Commons is a set of linked courses and service project meant to provide a virtual study abroad experience

All students begin in the central square, the Commons, where they will participate in general discussions and goal setting, an introduction to intercultural communications and a high level introduction to the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). See A on the diagram. They will then begin a course on intercultural storytelling to set the context for the product of their projects  This course will feature a common introduction to principles of storytelling and communications, and then students will have the option of focusing on storytelling through a particular medium, such as storytelling through video or podcasts.

After completing the first module, students will move towards the outside of the square, into a course on international perspectives on one of six SDGs.  See B on the diagram. This course will provide an overview of the SDG and associated issues internationally for all students enrolled in the course, while also allowing students to select a lens for more in depth study. The lenses are frameworks for exploring the SDGs through particular disciplines or other framing characteristics such as geography. All content is developed by SUNY faculty, openly licensed, and includes international perspectives. This provides students the background and context needed to frame the project. 

Students then move on to designing and completing a project in small groups with community based and nonprofit organizations from around the world (C on the diagram). These projects will include telling the story of the work or issues faced by the community or organization in relation to the SDG, along with producing a product to help advance the organization’s work. The product of these projects will be based on the needs of the community organization or nonprofit, for example, a podcast, video or newsletter. Projects will be supervised by SUNY faculty in collaboration with the organization and will also be openly licensed.

On completion of the project, students will present them to the organization worked with (C), and to their broader SDG group (B). The end of the course brings all students back together in the central square (A) for reflection, discussion and leveraging their learning and experience.

Program flow

Although comprised of two distinct courses, this program will operate holistically. Students begin the program with a self assessment and goal setting exercise, an introduction to intercultural communications and general background information on the history and development of the UN SDGs. The Intercultural Storytelling course then begins, followed by the SDG focused courses. As students move closer to the beginning of their project, they will begin to study the organization, its work, and the culture and country in which it operates. Students will work in small groups with their SDG faculty, who will provide guidance on how to work with the partner and supervision of the project as it’s developed. Storytelling faculty will provide support for the medium of the story through office hours, clinics and/or other activities throughout the project phase. Students will have support for the context, content and process of developing the organization’s story and producing an outcome (for example a poster, an article, social media materials) that will directly benefit the partner organization.

The product of the projects will carry an open license, allowing the partner organization to use and modify the work to suit their needs, while allowing the student and SUNY to showcase the work. Final products will be showcased on a dedicated website, and shared with other students in the program during the final week. The final week of the program will also feature activities for reflection and leveraging the work done during the program for future endeavors.