Global Solutions Sustainability Challenge

Global Solutions Sustainability Challenge


Global Solutions Sustainability Challenge is a virtual exchange initiative that supports workforce development in the U.S., Iraq, and Jordan.

Community college and university students from the U.S. and technical college and university students from Iraq and Jordan come together to solve global challenges in their communities. The program improves global citizenship, strengthens problem-solving skills, and develops enduring connections, while enhancing students’ job skills through online collaboration.

The challenge is funded 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. It is also supported by the Bezos Family Foundation and the governments of Morocco and the United Arab Emirates.

Connect your students to the world

Applications are now open for the Global Solutions Sustainability Challenge and the Global Solutions  Conversations programs! 

Interested in providing relevant, hands-on learning experience to develop student job skills through a binational virtual exchange? 

Apply by August 1, 2021, to lead a binational team of students through the Global Solutions Sustainability Challenge. Learn more about application criteria and how to apply. 

Interested in leading a group of students through a virtual exchange conversation series? 

Apply by August 1, 2021 to lead a group of students through the Global Solutions Conversations, a virtual exchange series consisting of six binational calls and no outside additional work. Learn more about application criteria and how to apply. 

Interested in coaching a binational team? 

Applications are now open for coaching a binational team through the Global Solutions Sustainability Challenge.  Learn more about the application criteria and how to apply. 


U.S. Flag, U.S. Department of State Seal, The Aspen Institute, Stevens Initiative logos

Academic partners:  Al Balqa Applied University, Baltimore City Community College, Beaufort County Community College, Central Piedmont Community College, Chandler-Gilbert Community College, College of Southern Idaho, Davidson County Community College, Delta College, Duhok Polytechnic University, Elizabethtown Community & Technical College, Erbil Polytechnic University, Estrella Mountain Community College, Harper College, Hillsborough Community College, Kauai Community College,Khawarizmi University Technical College, Kirkwood Community College, Komar University of Science and Technology, Lone Star College, Lord Fairfax Community College, Luminus Technology University College, Madison College, Mesa Community College, MiraCosta College, Montgomery College, Nassau Community College, Nawroz University, Northampton Community College, Northeast Wisconsin Technical College, Northern Virginia Community College, Oakland Community College, Sacramento City College, Santa Fe College, Soran University, St. Petersburg College, Sulaimani Polytechnic, SUNY Rockland Community College, Tompkins Cortland College, University of Anbar, and University of Garmain.

Quick Facts from Cohort I & II

  • 92% of MENA students and 68% of the US Students expressed the program was beneficial for their future career.
  • 91% of MENA students and 68% of US students expressed the program strengthened their leadership skills.
  • 90% of MENA students and 74% of US students increased confidence with technology tools for virtual collaboration.
  • 88% of MENA students and 80% of US students strengthened cross cultural communication skills.
  • 73% of MENA students and 60% of US students positively changed pre-existing stereotypes.


  • Develop faculty skills in supporting innovation and global citizenship for their students.
  • Boost students’ innovation, problem-solving, and critical-thinking skills while increasing their respect for diversity, better preparing them for the modern workforce.
  • Develop enduring connections between community colleges and universities in the U.S. and colleges and universities in Iraq and Jordan based on meaningful collaboration and virtual exchange.
  • Develop student enthusiasm and investment in cross-cultural communication and technology.
“My greatest takeaway from participating in the program was learning how similar we are to people in Iraq. It’s crazy the images we get from the media versus getting to talk to students in Iraq. It was amazing seeing so many similarities between us.”  Student, United States

Global Solutions Sustainability Challenge Project Activities

  • Facilitator training workshop: Participating faculty from community colleges and universities in the U.S. and colleges and universities in Jordan and Iraq learn how to facilitate the challenge’s curriculum. Faculty receive training on inclusive teaching strategies, design thinking, cross-cultural collaboration, and technology.
  • Binational virtual competition: Facilitators put together gender-balanced teams to pair up with their binational partner over a 10-week period. Each team is guided by the provided curriculum to create a sustainable solution to their selected sustainability problem, inspired by the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Teams work together to research, brainstorm, design, test, and pitch their innovative solution.
  • Global Solutions curriculum: IREX developed a curriculum that teaches students to innovate and solve problems, and also facilitates connections between people of different backgrounds. Teams collaborate over the course of a design challenge to create solutions to real-world problems. The curriculum has activities that take place online in real-time as well as away from the computer. All activities prompt regular sharing and ideation between binational partners.
  • Virtual Global Business Expo Binational teams from the United States and Jordan or the United States and Iraq create innovative solutions as part of the Global Solutions Sustainability Challenge. Solutions are displayed at the Virtual Global Business Expo and Career Fair. Explore previous cohort's top innovations »

Global Solutions Conversations Program Activities

  • Series of Binational Calls: Through a five-week virtual exchange series consisting of five binational calls, students will practice cross cultural collaboration and learn about each other’s culture as they engage in the process of design thinking and discuss global issues in their community. Individual teams will brainstorm a community project idea to support increased sustainability in their local communities. Scripts are provided to guide facilitators and students through each binational call. No additional work is required outside the binational calls.   



About the Stevens Initiative

The Stevens Initiative is an international effort to build global competence and career-readiness skills for young people in the United States and the Middle East and North Africa while growing and enhancing the field of virtual exchange: online, international, and collaborative learning. The Stevens Initiative is sponsored by the U.S. Department of State, with funding provided by the U.S. Government, and is administered by the Aspen Institute. It is also supported by the Bezos Family Foundation and the governments of Morocco and the United Arab Emirates. For further information, please visit



  • Education
  • Technology
  • Youth
  • Americas
  • Middle East & North Africa
  • Jordan
  • United States