COIL Project (Fall 2021 Montclair-Palermo): Baroque Architecture in Sicily, Latin America, Spain, the US…. and the MSU campus

sunycoillogo500at    Montclair State University   with  CONVENZIONE CON L'UNIVERSITA' DEGLI STUDI DI PALERMO - KAROL C.T.A. PSICHIATRICA and support from  

In Fall 2021 a second collaboration between Montclair State University and the Università degli Studi di Palermo will be launched as part of the COIL (Collaborative Online International Learning) INITIATIVE AT MONTCLAIR STATE UNIVERSITY. COIL fosters virtual exchanges among students in different countries with the aim of working on shared projects across university classes and cultural boundaries. Its goal is to provide students in the U.S. with the opportunity to be in touch with students residing abroad, especially at a time of stasis of study abroad programs due to the pandemic. COIL also offers credits towards the International and Inclusive Initiatives badge at MSU.

This COIL project designs a specific collaboration between ITAL 111 “Italian for Spanish Speakers,” taught by Prof. Teresa Fiore (Department of Languages and Cultures, COIL Fellow at Montclair State University), and a class of Spanish language for Italian speakers taught by Prof. Floriana Di Gesù (Department of Letters and Philosophy) at the Università degli Studi di Palermo in Sicily (Italy).* Specific aspects of the project are supported by the Inserra Endowed Chair in Italian and Italian American Studies.

The first edition of the project (Spring 2021) was devoted to Aztec chocolate in Sicily and Mexico as an exploration of the transnational routes of practices and goods during the Spanish imperial dominion which actively embraced such faraway places as Sicily, Latin America and Spain. See Spring 2021 project description about Aztec chocolate in Sicily and Mexico.

The main goal of this COIL project is to create occasions for the students to become aware of their similar but reversed language acquisition paths, while learning about the specific topic of baroque architecture. The project will include archival research, visits of places/buildings featuring the baroque style, and a creative component to be designed at a later date.

Special attention will be paid to vocabulary, phonetics and grammar during a targeted unit, in order to make students in both countries even further aware of the closeness of Italian and Spanish, as well as of the need to be aware of their differences. To this purpose, the teaching approach will include translanguaging, translation, and intercultural comprehension within a multilingual vision.

Besides enhancing students’ knowledge and skills, and obviously designing a space for human interactions across cultures, the COIL project aims at offering a virtual international experience that challenges traditional notions of language and space. While American students often equate Italy with Florence and Venice, they will discover the South first, and in the process they will discover how much that South has in common with them as Latin@ students in the U.S. At the same time, Italian students of Spanish who would normally look for language pals in Spain or Latin America will explore the linguistic and cultural legacy of Spain in the U.S. This project complicates the perception of both Italian and American identities while leveraging commonalities.

Ultimately, the project’s goal is to create a fruitful tension between the encounter with an unfamiliar culture and the recognition of the advanced level of familiarity with it, produced by historical legacies and the passing of traditions along the transnational routes of human exchanges over time. Going abroad, even if only virtually, can also mean finding home.



*The two faculty members coordinating the project (Prof. Teresa Fiore and Prof. Floriana Di Gesù) came together for the specific purpose of COIL. Their collaboration is an expansion of previous exchanges between the Inserra Endowed Chair at Montclair State University and various departments at the University of Palermo in the areas of Migration and Environmental Studies.

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See initiative details on the COIL page
See video of COIL experience USA-Venezuela in Spanish and COIL experience MSU-Santiago del Chile (Theater)
List of skills embedded in COIL and available for students to acquire and hone.

Article about the Mission Revival style of Montclair State university campus


Materials related to the project (pictures, videos, excerpts from reports) may be shared on public websites or in the media with the purpose of highlighting the educational relevance of the COIL project with its impact on the internationalization of the university experience. Montclair State U students automatically sign a consent form upon admission to the university. Students interested in opting out have an opportunity to do so in the course of the project (faculty coordinators will inform both students based in Italy and the US about this option).


Successful completion of a COIL course will earn a student points toward the badge for International and Inclusive Initiatives: The COIL participation alone is not enough to earn the badge, but combined with one or two other activities, will earn a badge.
Level 3 (Participation – 50 pts)
Involves engagement, which means activities at this level require a higher level of involvement to develop this competency. The goal of activities in Level 3 is to get you to develop some level of skill or proficiency that takes you a step further to becoming an expert.