Stevens Initiative Awards Grant to Make Virtual Exchange Possible for Youth in Morocco and the United States

The College of Agriculture and Life Sciences has partnered with Mohammed VI Polytechnic University (UM6P) in Morocco on a virtual exchange opportunity: ENGAGE: “Leadership in a Virtual World.”

This connects students at TAMU with students at UM6P where they will engage in live discussions and work together on activities to develop and strengthen cultural competency skills.

Dr. Jack Elliot ( is the lead faculty for TAMU and his ALEC 350: Global Agricultural Issues course will serve as the pilot for the program in Fall 2020. Kerri Vance, Coordinator for International Academic Programs (, assisted in program development. This program was co-designed by TAMU and UM6P through the “Design with a Partner” pathway offered by the Stevens Initiative.

The program 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. Virtual exchange is not a new field. However, due to the global pandemic and unprecedented travel restrictions, this model has become an avenue to continue interactive international learning experiences for students. It also provides the opportunity for students to have an international experience who may have other barriers to traditional study abroad such as cost, mobility issues, travel concerns, etc.

Article about the program in The Agricultural Education Magazine, July/August 2020, Volume 93 Issue 1, page 32 – “The Modern Pen Pal”–%20July%20August.pdf

Stevens Initiative Program Description:

“ENGAGE is a collaborative 7-week virtual exchange program, offered over a two-year period that introduces students to international intercultural competencies through a variety of group assignments with agricultural and non-agricultural leadership themes. In meeting its objective, ENGAGE immerses graduate and undergraduate students in a virtual environment of diverse teamwork, active listening, conflict management, leadership/followership, critical thinking, problem solving, and effective communication through positive dialogue. By way of these facilitated dialogues and intentional activities, students develop critical skills that are relevant in today’s global workforce.”

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