Penn State professor leads virtual exchange program with Serbian university

A woman giving a presentation at a podium

Andjela Kaur speaking at The International Conference Why Do We Need Disability Studies at the University of Novi Sad.

Credit: Provided by Andjela Kaur

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Andjela Kaur, assistant teaching professor of rehabilitation and human services at Penn State Lehigh Valley, recently completed an Experiential Digital Global Engagement (EDGE) project with students from her employment strategies for people with disabilities course and partners from the University of Novi Sad, Serbia. EDGE is a project-based international virtual exchange program adapted from the State University of New York’s Collaborative Online International Learning (COIL) program.

“Students benefit from knowing that there is the rest of the world outside of their campus, and this is a great opportunity to bring the world into the classroom,” Kaur said.

While pursuing her doctoral degree, Kaur found herself working in global disability studies, with an overall interest in the global perspective. 

“It felt right to not pretend that I don’t have this, sort of, complicated national identity situation going on that comes with me and my accent," said Kaur, who is originally from former Yugoslavia. "And this was a great opportunity [for students to gain a global perspective in their studies] especially because it doesn't involve a lot of money.” 

Kaur partnered with Dragana Vuković Vojnović, Department of Geography, Tourism and Hotel Management, from the University of Novi Sad. For the project, students were asked to assess accessibility features in work and leisure environments within their local community. Accessibility features included, but were not limited to: physical space, mobility and sensory issues. Following the students’ assessments, they were asked to compare found features with their international counterparts, and then create a presentation to display their findings. At the end of the four-week project, students presented their findings with writings and short videos from their student partners at the University of Novi Sad.

At the completion of the EDGE project, Kaur’s students expressed how much they enjoyed taking part in it, even with a six-hour time difference between universities.

“The feedback was overwhelmingly positive,” Kaur said. “I know one of the students remains in active contact with a counterpart in Serbia and they [students] know that each other exists, and that’s really, really great. ... the projects showcased high-quality work, which indicated that students were actively engaged in the project.”

Kaur also mentioned that her students learned about new implements of accessibility, such as raised pavement in crosswalks to assist those visually impaired.

After the project ended, Kaur stayed in touch with her partner, Vuković Vojnović, and was able to travel to Serbia over winter break where they met in person for the first time. While traveling, Kaur also had the opportunity to attend The International Conference: Why Do We Need Disability Studies at the University of Novi Sad. There, Kaur was able to talk to activists, non-profit professionals, educators and civil servants about the EDGE project. Kaur and Vuković Vojnović have since been in contact with a law professor at the university where Vuković Vojnović’s students plan to discuss their project findings with law students soon. With these newfound connections, both Kaur and Vuković Vojnović plan to continue their partnership through EDGE with plans for fall 2024, including a broader advocacy agenda.

EDGE provides opportunities for global and intercultural engagement without the need to travel physically. Virtual exchange can provide a new element to nearly any academic course. For information on how to start an EDGE collaboration, visit or email Tracy Coleman, EDGE program associate, at [email protected] for more information.