Course explores ethics and cultures

Course explores ethics and cultures

Some people hop a plane to gain an international perspective. A group of students at Corning Community College (CCC) are logging into Skype, Facebook, and myriad technology to do the same. And, while some people are content to broaden their international IQ with new foods and architectural style, these students are exploring how their international peers define “right” … legally and ethically.

Fourteen students in Business Law at CCC are collaborating with 7 students studying at the Universidad Autonoma de Tamaulipas in Ciudad Victoria, Mexico, during the spring semester. They are using a variety of technology, including email, texts, Facebook, Skype, and Moodle, an electronic platform similar to those found in professional settings. The course, taught by Jennifer O’Hara and Arturo Briseño, from CCC and the Universidad Autonoma de Tamaulipas, respectively, will promote intercultural discussions.

Students will work in small groups to complete two assignments:

After watching a movie, discuss the identified issue from an ethical perspective and produce a digital summary of the group’s point of view.

After reading a case study outlining President Donald Trump’s options regarding divestiture from his corporate holdings, reach a proposed solution that is supported by data and analysis. Students will present their findings electronically.

“The value of the course is two-fold,” said O’Hara, assistant professor. “Students benefit from intercultural opportunities that expose them to life and realities beyond the Southern Tier, and success for the current generation is intimately tied to their ability to creatively use technology to innovate, communicate, and persuade. Our students come to us with the ability to use technology, most often for pleasure. Opportunities such as this allow them to leverage its power for personal and professional growth.”

Categorized as a Collaborative Online International Learning (COIL) course, O’Hara’s Business Law class offers students international learning opportunities rarely available at community colleges. CCC professors and their international colleagues work from shared syllabi, teaching traditional face-to-face classes and assigning online collaborative projects. Small groups, comprised of students from both countries, complete assignments corresponding via their method of choice—e.g., Google, Skype, Facebook—and post their final submissions electronically, so others can read and comment.

COIL started as a SUNY professor’s grassroots initiative and has grown into a SUNY-wide initiative and one of the leading organizations to provide innovative and cost-effective internationalization of curricula. CCC was one of the early participants in COIL. From the beginning, the administration and faculty recognized the importance of COIL’s goals to “internationalize curricula, build global partnerships, and help prepare globally competent students equipped for work and civic engagement in a global context” (

Two other faculty are also offering COIL classes this semester:

  • Associate Professor Maarit Clay's Composition II students will be working with Chinese students in their College English 2-2 course at Tianjin Normal University. Their COIL Module is "Beyond Borders through Short Stories."
  • Associate Professor Lee Gernert-Larrea's psychology students will focus on cultural and legal differences that have shaped and impacted our criminal justice systems as they collaborate with students at the University of the West of Scotland.