Zoom Meeting

4 Ways to Get Creative with Global Partnerships and Projects in Times of COVID-19

By Elizabeth Langridge-Noti, director of faculty engagement

Earlier this summer Global Affairs held a virtual grantee “coffee hour” to generate questions from and answers for grantees about engaging with their global partners during the pandemic. As part of the event, Global Affairs staff asked faculty recipients of Global Affairs grants (Seed Grants for International Activities, Grants for Advancing Sustainable Development Goals, and Grants for Regional Faculty Groups) about creative ways they have found to carry out global partnership and grant-related activities when it isn’t possible to meet in person. A number of ideas emerged from the small group discussions, which were facilitated by Global Affairs and the Office of Research.

1. Consider the access that you and your partners have to a strong internet connection. In some locations video conferencing may be challenging or frustrating. In these cases, phone calls or another platform could work better for international partners. Materials or pre-work can be sent or completed asynchronously prior to the call.

An example from Ana Lucia Cordova-Kreylos, strategic initiatives manager in the Office of Research, regarding the Wildfires Working Group with the University of Sydney:

“Traditionally, this working group would have met in person for a couple of days at one campus or the other for very intensive in-person faculty meetings. Now they are holding shorter Zoom meetings over a number of weeks with asynchronous work being done prior to meeting online. My take-away: consider carefully what can be done offline and what needs to happen during the Zoom interactions.”

2. Consider breaking your project down into smaller components and tackle one piece at a time. Rather than one intensive multi-day workshop, consider a series of shorter meetings sessions with asynchronous work carried out in between.

An example from Beth Rose Middleton, professor and department chair of Native American Studies, for her Seed Grant project, “Indigenous Caribbean”:

“One of the most exciting aspects of our seed grant was the proposed hosting of UC's first Garifuna scholar-in-residence in fall 2020. We planned to have Zoila Ellis Browne, J.D., of the International Garifuna Heritage Foundation, come to UC Davis in fall 2020 to work with us on planning an Indigenous Caribbean course to be offered (with slightly different content to speak to interests in both sites) in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and at UC Davis. We planned to hold in-person focus groups as well as travel to events. Although we can’t host Zoila Ellis Browne, in order to keep up the momentum of building our collaboration and developing our course, we decided to organize a remote First-Year Seminar in fall that will allow us to invite Zoila and other collaborators to call-in and dialogue with us and with students. This will also allow us to pilot a draft course in preparation for a full course offering in 2020 or 2021.”

3. Determine if part of your lab work or in-person collaboration be carried via a virtual collaboration similar to that of the COIL (Collaborative Online International Learning) model.

Global Affairs will be supporting the creation of virtual collaboration course modules in partnership with Tecnológico de Monterrey and Shanghai Jiao Tong University as part of a Universitas 21 grant beginning winter 2021 using Tecnológico de Monterrey’s Global Classroom model. As such, we will be building resources for faculty who are interested in pursuing virtual collaborations and welcome expressions of interest to either Elizabeth Langridge-Noti, director of faculty engagement in Global Affairs, or Jennie Konsella-Norene, assistant director of global professional programs in Global Affairs.

An example from Jonathan London, associate professor in community and regional development, and a recipient of a Grant for Regional Faculty Groups titled “Building transdisciplinary collaborative research and teaching partnerships in Nepal”:

“Part of the goal of this group was to facilitate network building and collaboration for faculty and students across UC Davis with non-profit, university, and government agency partners in Nepal. Rather than do this work in person, the grantees are now examining the possibility of virtual internships with their Nepalese partners and thinking carefully about what UC Davis students can bring to the table, including applied research and communication skills, as well as access to library and other materials that might be hard to find in Nepal.”

4. As you build toward virtual events or virtual content, consider how to create content that has a life beyond a single event. Budget allocations for activities like receptions at in-person workshops could be redirected toward creating videos or materials that can be re-used by you and your partners.

An example from Carrie Waterman, assistant researcher in the Department of Nutrition, recipient of a Grant for Advancing the Sustainable Development Goals titled “African Entrepreneurship for Advancing UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)”:

“For our SDG grant on African Entrepreneurship with African Leadership University, we definitely plan to shift our travel funds to online curriculum and workshop development. We believe this has two advantages: 1) it allows us to move forward in the midst of COVID-19; 2) it provides a sustainable platform that future faculty and students can use/adapt in the future and; 3) it can easily be adapted back out to be an in-person event if travel restrictions to Rwanda lift. Our partners have said that the students are OK with internet access generally: it is both available on their campus, which is now open, and the campus has provided the students with low-cost internet bundles."


Faculty members or Global Affairs grant recipients are encouraged to contact Elizabeth Langridge-Noti, director of faculty engagement, Global Affairs, to let us know if you have continued with your grant project so that we can continue to share ideas! 

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