School of Health and Human Sciences

Kathryn Berlin, Heaven Hollender, and Lamia Scherzinger

Participating Courses:
First Year Seminar courses - Kathryn Berlin and Heaven Hollender
Nutrition for Health (KINE N220) course - Lamia Scherzinger

Curriculum Internationalization Effort

First Year Seminar
We are revising our Global Rehabilitation Certificate, so we thought becoming involved in this global initiative would allow us to better understand what opportunities and resources existed. Although this was our initial reason, once we were involved, we became excited about the opportunities for students, especially in terms of introducing them to students from another country. We also felt this focus on globalization was instrumental in teaching our students about cultural competency in healthcare, which is a key component in many of our courses.

When we elected to participate in the global initiative, we decided to introduce activities using the UN Sustainable Development Goals and IUPUI’s Dimensions of Global Learning modules into the first year seminar courses. We also contacted the IU Europe Gateway and asked about setting up a virtual meeting with our first-year students and students in another country.

Our thought was to allow students to meet and discuss similarities/differences in their first year of college. This led to discussions, and in November 2022, we conducted two virtual exchange sessions with 15 German students from the Technical University of Applied Sciences Wurzburg-Schweinfurt. Each session lasted 90 minutes with a total of 38 first-year students from IUPUI.

These sessions were hugely successful. We asked students to reflect on the experience and received only positive feedback. Almost every student mentioned that this experience made them want to study abroad. In addition, every student stated they would engage in such an experience again (38 of our 62 students participated).

To instructors unsure about incorporating global dimensions or engaging in a virtual exchange, I say go for it. While it can be intimidating to get started, the Office of International Affairs has numerous resources and support to help. The people we worked with at IUPUI were phenomenal and the support was very strong. And, once we started engaging with our international liaison, it was fun to interact with someone from another country and get to meet a variety of people from different areas of the world. It is definitely worth the time and students love the opportunity!

Professor Kathy Berlin

Nutrition for Health
Nutrition is an international activity- we all must eat to survive. However, why, when, where, with whom, and many more aspects of eating are heavily influenced by our geographical location, culture, and even governmental policies that dictate our eating guidelines. The Nutrition for Health course (N220) is a general education course whose overarching goal is to teach students the basic principles of nutrition. Through collaborations with three different universities, the students met synchronously four times during a seven-week project with an international partner to analyze what influences what we eat, how this differs between our two countries, and how this all ultimately creates the food habits we utilize in a day-to-day basis. We heavily incorporated the Society and Culture Principle of Learning through the students’ requirement to compare and contrast their eating habits, governmental eating guidelines, and even ways of life while also analyzing and understanding how there are connections that ultimately unite us. This is specifically measured in their final project, a PowerPoint presentation that requires them to share similarities and differences in the two countries’ eating habits and influences, common misconceptions they had about each other’s country’s way of eating, and what the project taught them overall, aside from just eating habits.

The virtual exchange was AWESOME! I loved every second of it. I feel like this opportunity is rare, so I had to do it. During this virtual exchange, I got to talk to students from different parts of Germany in breakout sessions. We shared our experiences with the educational system, food, and much more. I learned that I didn’t know much about Germany!

anonymous student

Benefit to the Student

First Year Seminar
Reflections from students in the first year seminar courses indicated they benefitted from the global focus in many ways. It allowed them to reflect on their assumptions about individuals from other countries and realize that assumptions are not always based on truth. Students remarked they understood the idea of culture better and how this understanding led to embracing other cultures and beliefs. They also mentioned that the virtual exchange allowed them to “see” how others live compared to them. They stated that values differed, which was enlightening to these first-year students. Finally, students repeatedly mentioned that understanding cultural beliefs would make them better healthcare professionals.

From our perspective, what made this virtual exchange successful was the student reaction to the opportunity. The feedback they provided us, both in person and via their reflections, was overwhelmingly positive and demonstrated the need to continue this type of work. In addition, students continued to talk about the exchange when we discussed topics in class, and they brought up other countries or cultures. They would say things like, “Well, at one time I would have agreed but now that I’ve talked with the German students, I think we should look at another viewpoint on this..." Those sporadic comments showed us that students continued to think “globally” and were more open to considering diverse opinions on a topic.

I just wanted to say thank you for giving us this assignment. I loved getting to know my partners; you couldn’t have paired me up with anyone better! I also loved learning more about the Netherlands.Heidi Wold, N220 Student

Nutrition for Health
These projects in the Nutrition for Health course have been extremely beneficial to our students, especially since we teamed up with the first-year seminar sections in our department to provide our students with a global learning opportunity in their first semester at college. While we know that studying abroad can be an eye-opening and enriching experience for our students, we also know that, due to finances, time constraints, and other limiting resources, many students may never study abroad. The ability to participate in the virtual exchange, therefore, increases their cultural understanding, global citizenship, and digital literacies, all done at no extra cost to my students!

We are an interconnected world, and more and more businesses want employees who have experience dealing with other cultures and countries. Global citizenship is required for many jobs, as is the ability to utilize a wide variety of digital tools, which this experience provides. Personally, this project allows our students the chance to experience a culture they probably would have never done so otherwise and opens their worlds a bit more than before the virtual exchange.

Benefit to the School

First Year Seminar
We feel this experience in the First Year Seminar courses opened our minds to a whole new world of learning. The opportunity to allow students to engage with students from other countries was enlightening. To see how students prepared and the excitement they felt interacting with others was phenomenal. A key aspect is that it helped us to understand how the global integration process worked and how best to align this with our courses.

Drs. Berlin and Hollender spoke about their virtual exchange at the 2023 E.C Moore Symposium on Excellence in Teaching. Their presentation was titled "Let's get students talking to other students around the world." The PowerPoint is available upon request if you email

Nutrition for Health
Selfishly, part of the reason I started this project with my Nutrition for Health course was that I value the outcomes of global learning. Limited a bit due to my asynchronous online class format, a virtual exchange was a perfect fit for me. Since then, I have grown the project to occur in both fall and spring annually with two different university partners, presented on this topic at numerous universities, and even recently was awarded the Sarah Baker High Impact Practice Teaching Award! I am deeply passionate about what benefits this project provides my students and am excited to watch it continue to improve each semester.

Food, by nature, connects us all. Whether we never leave the country or travel all the time, we are eating food from all over the world and have eating habits influenced by our cultures and where we live. This virtual exchange enabled our students to wholly understand this, learning where our differences lie, but also how our similarities converge and connect us. By globalizing my curriculum, my students now have a way to showcase this knowledge.Lamia Nuseibeh Scherzinger

Follow the N220 Virtual Exchange Blog to learn more!