In her new role as Associate Director of Global Education in the Office of the Vice Provost for Global Affairs, Sharmila Udyavar looks forward to equipping UNC students for the global professional world. She began her appointment in January.
“It was a very strong and competitive candidate pool,” said Heather Ward, associate vice president of global affairs. “And we were thrilled to find our most talented and experienced global education expert here in North Carolina at Fayetteville State University.”
Udyavar said she spent years at FSU working with students on partnerships and study abroad experiences. But she understood that it was time to change.
She plans to focus on preparing students for careers in diplomacy in international affairs in her role at UNC.
“I’m extremely passionate about the need for every student to have a global experience,” Udyavar said. “I think Carolina has the resources, the commitment, the focus to help me deliver that.”
The Office of the Vice Provost for Global Affairs strives to provide a “Global Guarantee” – a commitment by UNC to make global education accessible to all students. In his position, Udyavar will support this University promise by overseeing the collaborative international online learning program.
COIL is a virtual exchange between teachers and students around the world that can be implemented in different programs. Udyavar said COIL is something UNC can offer all students, especially those who cannot study abroad.
And Udyavar is familiar in the international learning space. She said she used the virtual exchange model when she connected her sociology class at FSU to an English class in China via Zoom. Chinese students talked to American students about social issues in English, while American students learned about society in China.
“It often leads to some really surprising friendships,” Udyavar said.
Ward said there are nearly 50 COIL courses at UNC. In total, Ward said there are about 1,300 UNC students enrolled in COIL courses.
“Students on a COIL course sometimes face the same challenges as in a traditional study abroad,” Ward said. “That is, language differences, cultural differences, historical differences, time differences, and different academic expectations in classrooms.”
Students can enroll in a COIL course using a COIL tag on ConnectCarolina beginning with the next enrollment cycle, Ward said, and may receive general education credit in experiential education for certain courses.
Udyavar will also contribute to the diplomatic initiative. Led by Vice Provost of Global Affairs and Chief Global Officer Barbara Stephenson, its goal is to connect students interested in pursuing global diplomatic professions with high-level foreign affairs mentors.
“We are delighted to welcome Sharmila to our team, and I am especially excited to leverage her expertise to develop student-focused programming under the Diplomatic Initiative,” Stephenson said in an email. “With his experience in both administration and the classroom, we will be able to create a cohesive program that helps students develop the skills and knowledge necessary to become thoughtful and informed global leaders.”
Udyavar said the Diplomatic Initiative currently welcomes people with distinguished diplomatic careers to speak to students about pursuing a career in diplomacy, international relations or national security. An ambassador will come speak to the UNC through the Diplomatic Initiative on Tuesday, she said.
Through her work at OVGPA, Udyavar wants students to seek out global experiences.
“That’s where I want our students to be,” she said. “I want them to be hungry to discover the world so that they can travel – because there is so much the world can offer. And you know, it’s a very rich life when a student is able to travel and live these experiences. So that’s my goal. And it’s like my dream.
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