Chancellor's Spotlight

Our Global University

In the midst of the pandemic, Carolina forged global connections and found new ways for students and faculty to collaborate with counterparts from around the world.

Kevin Guskiewicz with students

In the midst of the pandemic, Carolina forged global connections and found new ways for students and faculty to collaborate with counterparts from around the world.

June 11, 2021

Nearly two years ago, Ambassador Barbara Stephenson joined Carolina as Vice Provost for Global Affairs and Chief Global Officer. After a decorated career as a diplomat and international leader, Barbara is now leading the charge to strengthen Carolina’s global partnerships and prepare our students to address the grand challenges of our time. 

The obstacles she and our University have faced on this front over the last year have been monumental. But despite closed borders and curtailed travel, Carolina has continued to forge global connections and has found new ways for our students and faculty to collaborate with counterparts from around the world. I’m pleased to spotlight the work of Barbara and her team to infuse our university with a global mindset.

Kevin M. Guskiewicz
Chancellor, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill



Profile of Barbara Stephenson, Vice Provost for Global Affairs and Chief Global Officer.This past year saw international travel grind to a near halt, forcing many students to postpone study abroad opportunities and faculty to adjust research plans with partners around the world. But the global mindset at Carolina is about so much more than travel. In the midst of disruptions caused by the pandemic, UNC Global created new and innovative ways for Carolina students and faculty to connect with the world.

During this period, the University’s Chancellor’s Global Education Fund has supported Carolina faculty members as they continue to work with other leading universities to further their joint research. It has also helped our faculty create new ways to bring international perspectives into classrooms so that our students have opportunities to share ideas with peers across borders.

In fact, we now find ourselves even better positioned to fulfill Carolina’s Global Guarantee, our promise that every undergraduate student can have access to a transformative global education. This speaks to the ingenuity, resilience and commitment of our students and faculty, and to the strength of partnerships we have built with other leading universities throughout the world.

One success story has been the launch of Collaborative Online International Learning (COIL) at Carolina. Our longstanding global partnerships provided a foundation for our faculty to work virtually with global counterparts to design courses that bring students together to complete group projects, share perspectives, and collaborate on scholarly or creative work. During the 2020-21 academic year, more than 430 Carolina students participated in 19 new COIL courses. By the start of the 2021-22 academic year, we hope to have faculty committed to teaching a total of at least 40 COIL courses, with a longer term goal of enrolling 1,000 Carolina students in COIL courses each year.

This past year has underscored the importance of having flexible funds to enable the University to pivot quickly so that we can continue to deliver on our mission even in the midst of dramatic disruption. Global education and research that open avenues of collaboration, understanding and shared leadership are essential if we are to prepare future generations to solve the complex challenges our world faces.

I am hopeful that, over time, international travel will rebound and the Carolina community can again participate more routinely in the kind of in-person learning and collaboration that I grew up loving. At the same time, I am proud of the innovation here at Carolina that allowed us not only to keep global learning and research alive through the pandemic but has also set us up to thrive in the years to come by adding new, sustainable, cost-effective, and inclusive ways to collaborate across borders. We are in a strong position to sustain and strengthen the new ways of global collaboration that we have created to bring the world to Carolina and Carolina to the world.

Barbara J. Stephenson
Vice Provost for Global Affairs and Chief Global Officer
U.S. Ambassador (Retired)

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