COIL Partnership in Action: A Global Exchange

An illustration of students learning over Zoom.

By Rebecca Maxon

May 20, 2024 — During the spring 2024 semester, students from nine different courses at FDU had the opportunity to learn alongside cohorts from abroad at partner institutions. It’s facilitated through COIL, the Collaborative Online International Learning program, which FDU joined in 2023 and which is run out of the State University of New York

Madelyn Ferrans, senior lecturer of law at FDU’s Florham Campus, teamed up with Leposava (Lea) Ognjanoska, at International Balkan University (IBU) in North Macedonia, to teach Comparative Constitutional Law. Students studied the similarities and differences between North Macedonian and American constitutional law.

Unlike most COIL courses, which are run on an asynchronous basis due to time-zone differences, the students in these two courses were able to find a time to meet within FDU’s class time. This was possible because the students from IBU volunteered to participate in the program outside their regular courses.

“The Comparative Constitutional Law class would get together in our assigned classroom,” says Mariana Garcia, a junior majoring in government and politics at FDU. “The IBU students — connecting through Zoom — would attend the same lectures, whether by Professor Ferrans, or the professors at IBU.”

At FDU, some of the students in the Constitutional Law class are majoring in prelaw while others are taking the course as an elective outside their majors.

“We were able to really get to know our North Macedonian counterparts on a personal level and at the same time get their opinions regarding global and national issues,” says Bartolo Castano, BA’24 (Flor), who majored in government and politics at FDU.

One collaborative project involved the students drafting a 28th amendment to the U.S. Constitution. As part of this assignment, FDU students researched how many other countries have their proposed amendment and in what context. The FDU students used Zoom breakout rooms to engage in focus groups with the IBU students, discuss their proposed amendment and gather comparisons and insights from their overseas friends.

Working primarily on Zoom, WhatsApp and email “allowed us to include the North Macedonian students in legal/political discussions hosted by the FDU Politics and Law Club as well,” says FDU student Tracy Osawe, a sophomore government and politics major with a legal studies concentration.

IBU students were also introduced to FDU’s Model UN club (MUN), including students from the Vancouver Campus. Malike Denizcan Dizdar is IBU’s MUN president.

For the final project, IBU and FDU students took turns teaching one another about their individual governmental structures and constitutions, sparking more conversations and analysis. 

 “We spoke about many topics including security and privacy and the judicial systems of different countries and continents,” says Dizdar, who is studying law and political science.

“In our last class, students were disappointed for the semester to end. The IBU and FDU students had become colleagues and friends over the months,” says Ferrans. 

Through Bridging Perspective Worldwide (BPW), a new student-centered group, interested students can continue the conversation with their international partners, meeting each month.

“I have learned about cultural sensitivity and how to incorporate language differences into a meaningful discussion,” Castano says. “I also learned to think outside of our American bubble. Global discussion requires global involvement, participation and interpretation.”

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