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Global Conversations

Now that DePaul has completed over 7 months of mostly online learning, students are aching to connect with others and return to “normal.” DePaul students are not alone in that sentiment. This Fall, over 220 students from 19 countries participated in virtual discussions to find that connection, share their experiences and learn how the COVID-19 pandemic affects everyone in a myriad of ways. This was the second round of the Global Conversations, previously held in May, which are 90 minute dialogic sessions guided by a team of DePaul and international faculty members for students around the world. The topics ranged from mental health challenges, communicating one’s experience through art and media, to understanding democracy under stress. Some of the sessions focused their discussion on how COVID-19 has impacted specific places such as China, Africa, or a comparison between Buenos Aires and Chicago. Yet, all students participating from 19 different countries contributed to the discussion with their personal, national and local experiences. 

One student shared, “I enjoy meeting new people, especially around the world. The pandemic has had me sitting in my bedroom for 7 months straight- I haven't met anyone new or spoken to new people and it's exhausting. The idea of listening to new people talk and interact with them motivated me enough to wake up at 4:30 am and attend.” Another student noted, “I needed to share how this pandemic has affected the health of my community and also learn how other communities got affected.” 


The sessions were facilitated by 49 faculty members; 21 faculty from DePaul University and 28 faculty from 14 international institutions on nearly every continent. These facilitators collaborated across multiple time zones to organize dynamic sessions for students, thereby creating a time and space to connect, engage, debate and create. The faculty expressed excitement to hear the students’ perspectives and work with international counterparts.

Dr. Alison Hughes, Senior Lecturer from Australian Catholic University noted, “The opportunity to collaborate with international partner universities, in response to the pandemic, was an extremely valuable experience. As a result of the seminar series, I was able to collaborate with colleagues from the USA, Brazil, India and Germany in designing and delivering the sessions.” Many faculty were pleased with the students’ active and engaged participation, as Dr. David Barnett, Lecturer from Australian Catholic University shared, “there was a definite positive connection amongst the students.The sense of connection between the students (and staff) in the session demonstrated that we have a lot in common. I do not think that it is going too far to suggest that our session embodied dignity, community, participation, and global solidarity.”

While the topics of the Global Conversation sessions varied, each one engaged in relevant and crucial discussions that explored the state of our world in a tumultuous time, allowing students to share with each other in this moment in history.  After two successful rounds of Global Conversations, we are looking forward to hosting the series again in 2021 and adding them as an important part of our ongoing Global Engagement portfolio.