Today, the Stevens Initiative announced its second cohort of faculty scholars and university leadership teams participating in Stevens Initiative Connected Classrooms, a program for a select group of institutions dedicated to expanding global education opportunities through virtual exchange. The University of New Mexico will partner with faculty members at American University in Dubai, Mohammed VI Polytechnic University (UM6P), and the National School of Business and Management in Dakhla, Ibn Zohr University to plan virtual exchanges that they will implement in classrooms for the next two years.


Stevens Initiative Connected Classrooms brings virtual exchange experiences to students across Morocco, the United Arab Emirates, and the United States. It supports faculty and postsecondary institution leaders to implement, grow, and sustain these experiences by:

  • Offering Faculty Capacity Building and Coaching: Connected Classrooms accompanies faculty to effectively implement virtual exchange courses using the Collaborative Online International Learning (COIL) training model. 
  • Providing Institutional Strategic Support and Mentoring: Through a customized approach, Connected Classrooms works closely with the institutions’ leadership to support the growth of virtual exchange at various campuses in a sustainable manner. 
  • Creating a Global Virtual Exchange Community: Connected Classrooms Faculty Scholars and institutional leaders collaborate, learn, and develop best practices.

The University of New Mexico (UNM) is pleased to announce that eight UNM faculty will be participating in this virtual collaboration during the 2021-2022 academic year. Existing courses covering topics from nanophotonics, computer architecture, and senior engineering design, to international studies and Arabic language study, will be enhanced through instructional coordination with faculty counterparts in the United Arab Emirates and Morocco. UNM has a long history of active engagement in Latin America, and the campus is excited to forge new educational connections in the Middle East and North Africa.

As international travel and in-person exchanges have been starkly reduced by the current pandemic, this virtual collaboration presents a unique opportunity to engage instructors and students outside of the United States. Moving forward, Stevens Initiative Connected Classrooms will serve as a model for expanding virtual campus programming at UNM, creating affordable global experiences for students who are unable to travel abroad due to logistical or financial constraints. Post pandemic, virtual exchange will continue to complement traditional study and work experiences abroad for UNM students, thus expanding the pathways for international education on our campus. The timing of this collaboration aligns strategically with the launch of our campus conversations around 2040 vision planning, which will define new goals and the future blueprint for the institution, thus ensuring that international education is an integral part of the conversation.

In addition to The University of New Mexico, the following institutions are participating in Stevens Initiative Connected Classrooms:

  • Agnes Scott College
  • Ajman University
  • American University in Dubai
  • Goucher College
  • Green River College
  • Mohammed First University
  • Mohammed VI Polytechnic University
  • Mohammed VI University for Health Sciences
  • Morgan State University
  • National School of Business and Management in Dakhla, Ibn Zohr University
  • Portland State University
  • Sidi Mohammed Ben Abdellah University
  • Sultan Moulay Slimane University
  • Zayed University

Over two years, 1,500 students across all 15 institutions in Morocco, the United Arab Emirates, and the United States, including at The University of New Mexico, will participate in a virtual exchange supported by the Initiative under Connected Classrooms.

“At the core of Connected Classrooms is a desire to forge meaningful, equitable partnerships between institutions in Morocco, the United Arab Emirates, and the United States through virtual exchange. While the Stevens Initiative provides the support and framework to make virtual exchange sustained on their campuses, these new institutions – including their faculty, administrators, and students – are collectively championing this effort. They are the true leaders and we’re humbled to partner with them,” said Christine Shiau, Managing Director, the Stevens Initiative at the Aspen Institute.

The Stevens Initiative is an international effort to build global competence and career readiness skills for young people in the United States and the Middle East and North Africa by growing and enhancing the field of virtual exchange. Created in 2015 as a lasting tribute to Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens, the Initiative is committed to helping to expand the virtual exchange field through three pillars of work: investing in promising programs, sharing knowledge and resources, and advocating for virtual exchange adoption.

Founded in 1889 as New Mexico’s flagship institution, The University of New Mexico is a top U.S. university and one of 131 universities classified by the Carnegie Classification as a Highest Research Activity university (R1). Offering over 215 academic programs from undergraduate (bachelor) through graduate (doctorate/PhD) level degrees, we are proud to be a national Hispanic Serving Institution. Occupying nearly 800 acres near old Route 66 in the heart of Albuquerque— a metropolitan area of more than 500,000 people—UNM is a place where cutting-edge research and creative endeavors flourish.

The University of New Mexico’s participation in Connected Classrooms is supported by the Stevens Initiative, which is sponsored by the U.S. Department of State, with funding provided by the U.S. Government, and is administered by the Aspen Institute. The Stevens Initiative is also supported by the Bezos Family Foundation and the governments of Morocco and the United Arab Emirates.

More Information
The U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA)
builds relations between the people of the United States and the people of other countries through academic, cultural, sports, professional and private exchanges, as well as public-private partnerships and mentoring programs. These exchange programs improve foreign relations and strengthen the national security of the United States, support U.S. international leadership, and provide a broad range of domestic benefits by helping break down barriers that often divide us. Visit

The Aspen Institute is a global nonprofit organization committed to realizing a free, just, and equitable society. Founded in 1949, the Institute drives change through dialogue, leadership, and action to help solve the most important challenges facing the United States and the world. Headquartered in Washington, DC, the Institute has a campus in Aspen, Colorado, and an international network of partners. For more information, visit

The Bezos Family Foundation supports rigorous, inspired learning environments for young people, from birth through high school, to put their education into action. Through investments in research, public awareness, systems building and programs, the foundation works to elevate the field of education and improve life outcomes for all children.

The Kingdom of Morocco has held a longstanding commitment to the promotion of peace, mutual understanding and respect across all fora. In line with this commitment, the Government of the Kingdom of Morocco is a strong supporter of the Stevens Initiative and is proud to be included in its programs, which foster opportunities for cross-cultural exchanges between youth.

The Embassy of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in Washington, D.C. is committed to promoting and increasing cross-cultural understanding and educational exchanges. In line with the UAE Government’s values, the Embassy supports educational programming at schools and universities across the U.S. The Embassy works with U.S. institutions to provide unique opportunities for peer-to-peer exchanges and help broaden student’s horizons.