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When Florence Babb, professor of anthropology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, heard about Collaborative Online International Learning (COIL), she jumped at the opportunity to enhance her Introduction to Latin American Studies (LTAM 101) class and ultimately took her work to Ecuador, where she’s been collaborating with Universidad San Francisco de Quito faculty and students.  

A group standing in front of a lake
Florence Babb (far right) with her faculty host at USFQ, Michael Hill, and Maja Jeranko (far left, anthropology doctoral student at Carolina) and Dayuma Aban (anthropology doctoral student at Carolina, now on USFQ faculty).

Babb applied for a Curriculum Development Award for COIL through the Office of the Vice Provost for Global Affairs in fall 2021. COIL is a flexible pedagogical approach to global education that connects faculty and students from across the world through shared learning experiences and global, cross-institutional collaboration.  

According to Babb, LTAM 101 was the perfect class in which to use COIL because the course offers a broad interdisciplinary introduction to the field of Latin American studies. Linking a Latin American studies class with a class of Latin American students just made sense. “For me, it’s a no-brainer,” she said. 

Babb, a cultural anthropologist specializing in gender, sexuality, race and class in Latin America, had connected with Michael Hill, professor of anthropology at the Universidad San Francisco de Quito (USFQ), over shared research interests in the past. Hill was slated to teach a course similar to LTAM 101 at USFQ in the same semester, so Babb said that it felt natural to pair their classes through COIL.  

UNC-Chapel Hill and USFQ have been building a partnership since 2006 centered around the Galápagos Islands. The partnership began with individual faculty collaborations and has since grown to include a wide range of disciplines across the universities.  

Florence babb and Michael Hill with masks on in a lecture hall
Florence Babb with Michael Hill during a Feb. 11 workshop at USFQ.

During early COIL planning conversations in summer 2021, Babb and Hill came up with the idea for Babb to apply to serve as a Fulbright specialist at USFQ. The Fulbright Specialist Program pairs U.S. academics and professionals with host universities abroad to build institutional linkages. Babb’s COIL experience helped lay the groundwork for a strong Fulbright application.  

For the month of October, Hill and Babb’s class used COIL to enhance their teaching and classroom conversations. Babb said that when the class explored challenges of cross-border migration, USFQ students provided invaluable insight in group discussions.   

Babb was offered and accepted a Fulbright specialist position with USFQ, and she has now been at the university since early February, giving lectures, hosting workshops and mentoring USFQ students, some of whom are interested in coming to study at Carolina.  

“I think it does further the interest in UNC and in the COIL program,” Babb said. “I see only good things coming of it.” 

Ultimately, Babb hopes to continue collaborating with her partners at USFQ. 

“I would hate to go back to teaching Latin American Studies 101 without having the opportunity to COIL,” Babb said. “It just seems like a great chance to bring students together across the continents.” 

The Office of the Vice Provost for Global Affairs supports Carolina faculty in teaching COIL courses at the undergraduate and graduate-professional levels across multiple UNC-Chapel Hill schools and colleges as a part of its continued efforts to advance the internationalization of the Carolina curriculum. 

With funding from the COIL program, Babb and Hill had the opportunity to hire two graduate students from the anthropology department at UNC-Chapel Hill, Maja Jeranko and Julio Villa-Palomino, who took turns sharing their research experiences with the class. Babb explained that the funds add to graduate students’ livelihoods and provides them with teaching opportunities. 

“We’re going to do it again next fall, and even the same grad students want to do it again,” Babb said. “I think the students on both sides were really enjoying it.” 

The next priority application deadline for the Curriculum Development Award for COIL is March 5, 2022 for Fall 2022 or Spring 2023 courses. Applications will be accepted through April 8, 2022.

By Sasha Schroeder ’22

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