Engaging Difference

Collaborating with James Madison University

From 2018 to 2021, faculty from Elon University and James Madison University were awarded a $40,000 Colonial Academic Alliance (CAA) IN/CO grant support of their collaborative global engagement research initiatives. The grant, entitled “Engaging difference: A deep dive into the assessment of transformative learning,” facilitated a multi-faceted research project examining the interactions between students’ identities and experiences and their participation in an off-campus global study program, as well as their perceptions of transformation and re-entry experiences. To view a PDF describing the grant and 2018 recipients, click here.

“The CAA IN/CO grant enabled the research team at Elon to partner with colleagues at James Madison University on a large-scale study of global engagement experiences, utilizing an innovative research tool, the Beliefs, Events, and Values Inventory (BEVI). This collaborative research opened up avenues of exploration related to how students engage difference while studying off campus, and how these experiences may influence their identity, worldview, future pathways, and ways of interacting with others upon return to the home campus. We are grateful for the opportunities afforded by the grant to collaborate with leading scholars and look forward to disseminating outcomes that will influence the field of global education.”  ~Maureen Vandermaas-Peeler, Elon University 

Bringing Theory to Practice

With the support of a grant from Bringing Theory to Practice (BTtoP), collaborative partners at James Madison University, Elon University, Kansai University, and Crossing Borders Education (CBE) developed a methodology to address a number of key challenges of online and in person interactions. Through use of authentic peer video prompts in the learning environment, students were able to overcome isolation and anxiety by dialoguing deeply across differences and making connections with peers around the globe.

Because this project was eclipsed by the global pandemic, the team began to focus on how to create productive interactions across differences in the virtual space. Authentic peer videos we had collected were a large part of creating an environment where learners saw themselves and their challenges in the videos of their peers. These video prompts led to deeper and more vulnerable dialogues among students who reported how meaningful those connections were during the isolation and uncertainty of the pandemic.

For more information about this research, please contact Maureen Vandermaas-Peeler.


The CBGL Collaborative

The CRGE is proud to be a sponsor of The Community-based Global Learning Collaborative (formerly The Globalsl Network). This is “a network of educational institutions and community organizations that advances ethical, critical, and aspirationally de-colonial community-based learning and research for more just, inclusive, and sustainable communities” (https://compact.org/global-sl/founding-sponsors/). There are several important partnerships that have developed over the last five years of this alliance.


In 2016, Maureen was teaching in Denmark and partnered with colleagues at DIS and at the Collaborative to administer the Global Engagement Survey (GES), which is modeled above, to students before and after a community-engaged global learning experience. The GES is a tool that combines qualitative and quantitative assessments of students’ global learning in three categories, including cultural humility (2 subscales), global citizenship (5 subscales), and critical reflection. This collaboration resulted in a publication at Frontiers, the Interdisciplinary Journal of Study Abroad. Since that time, others at Elon have joined this collaboration and we are part of a multi-institutional study of 11 other institutions and over 130 programs.

Maureen is also a member of the Steering Committee and the Knowledge Mobilization Committee, both of which afford opportunities to partner with other scholars and practitioners to reflect critically on global engagement experiences.