Cobleskill, NY — SUNY Cobleskill is taking a significant step toward broadening its students’ international experience with a new cross-cultural graphic design program developed in partnership with the Universidad La Salle in Mexico. The program received a $36,793 Capacity Building Grant in June from the Study Abroad Branch in the Department of State Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs Office of Academic Programs in cooperation with Partners of the Americas.
SUNY Cobleskill was among 18 institutions awarded the Capacity Building Grant out of more than 160 applicants. The grants were awarded to proposals that support the U.S. Study Abroad Branch’s mission of increasing participation and diversity in study abroad programs among U.S. students.
Graphic design students in the program will partner with students in agricultural business at SUNY Cobleskill to research, develop and market a local farm product to a foreign market — in this case, their peers at Universidad La Salle. The project will culminate in a two-week academic program and cultural excursions at Universidad La Salle for 20 SUNY Cobleskill students. The first course is planned for Spring 2017.
“This new program is a major step forward in teaching our students to truly think globally and act locally.”
Throughout the semester, much of the international collaboration will take place online, with SUNY Cobleskill and Universidad La Salle students exchanging marketing and design ideas via Skype and Instagram, as well as the Collaborative Online International Learning (COIL) platform. COIL, a State University of New York initiative, allows faculty in different countries to create course modules with shared content so students at each site can interact on common assignments.
Using COIL, about 40 students at each institution will create projects that reflect different cultural perspectives and begin to acquire cross-cultural skills before venturing abroad. Students will present their branding projects and be judged on marketability in the partner country during the study abroad phase.
The program aims to improve students’ understanding of a different culture’s approach to design and marketing, improve knowledge of customs and culture that affect agricultural product marketing, and teach them to function effectively in another culture and unfamiliar academic environment.
“This new program is a major step forward in teaching our students to truly think globally and act locally,” said Susan Jagendorf-Sobierajski, Executive Director of International Education at SUNY Cobleskill. “The students involved should come away with a new set of cross-cultural communication skills and a better understanding of a foreign culture, as well as a better understanding of themselves and their place in the world.”