Keynote Speakers


Cultivating Connection and Community
in 21st Century Education

Program Director, Author, Speaker, Professor, Student, and Interdisciplinary Social Scientist, Dr. Shelbee NguyenVoges, examines how cultivating connection and community online is an integral aspect of bridging the digital divide, particularly in the sociocultural crisis context of Covid-19 and beyond. Looking across the landscape of mental health, social justice, leadership and higher education change in the 21st century, NguyenVoges’ research unpacks how motivation, disconnection, and community in general have been formative contrasts shaping digital literacy, the learning experience, and society as a whole. She offers practical suggestions for fostering connection, community, as well as the larger role these ideas play in centering, celebrating & empowering our unique and wholly human stories.

Dr. Shelbee NguyenVoges

Dr. Shelbee NguyenVoges is the Director of the Master of Arts in Educational Innovations, Vice Chair of the Symposium for Asia-US Partnership Opportunities [SAUPO]-- the Largest Asian Business Conference in the US, and an Associate Professor of Education. She writes original research and scholarship concerning interdisciplinary and transformative 21st century education and has more than 10 years of teaching experience across adult and higher education contexts. 

Her research explores the practice of adult learning theory targeting the integration of narrative, critical reflection, and sociocultural influences in experiential learning, particularly study abroad participation.Dr. NguyenVoges identifies as a first-generation college student, returning back to Texas after 5 years of service in a blended teaching and administrative appointment as the Assistant Director of First-Year Programs at one of the largest institutions in the University of Georgia System. Prior to this, she lived and worked in the United Arab Emirates developing and teaching Global & Executive MBA and undergraduate interdisciplinary courses in communication and education while conducting field-based research centered around academic / social adjustment in multicultural contexts.  To date, she has led over 7 global, experientially educative trips outside of the formal classroom spanning 10 different international learning contexts across western Europe, Asia, and the US.  She recently published in Journal of Comparative & International Higher Education and is the author of a book chapter entitled Discerning the Past to Lead the Future: Social Justice as a Roadmap for Leading Higher Education Change and Transformation in Leadership for the Future: Lessons from the Past, Current Approaches, and Future Insights. Her most recent work underscores social-emotional learning, mental health, contemplative pedagogy, and their relationship to concepts of mindset, belonging, and 21st century education focusing on digital and hybrid learning environments. 


Toward Equity in Global Learning : The Impact of Technology

The wide availability, affordability, and reliability of synchronous video conferencing tools has changed the way we live and work. The impact of this technology has been particularly significant on the way in which higher education institutions are exposing students to global learning opportunities. The possibility to experience international collaborative learning is no longer restricted to a few privileged students who have the means and the opportunity to travel abroad. Collaborative Online International Learning, Virtual Exchange, virtual global internships, virtual global enhancement of courses are all virtual approaches to global learning that are changing the landscape and increasing equity and access to transformative international experiences for our students. We will reflect together on the impact of technology on global learning and we will explore emerging and well established pedagogies that effectively leverage technology to increase access and equity in global learning. Our goal is to give participants on one hand a  broad view of the spectrum of new virtual approaches to global learning and on the other a few specific, concrete examples that may enable them to start thinking about implementing similar approaches in their own teaching practice.


Dr. GianMario Besana

GianMario Besana is the Associate Provost for Global Engagement and Online Learning at DePaul University in Chicago, IL, USA. His portfolio comprises the internationalization process of the institution and its online learning operations. In collaboration with DePaul’s Center for Teaching and Learning, GianMario established a university wide COIL-virtual exchange initiative, called the Global Learning Experience (GLE). The program includes a professional development workshop for instructors and it has attracted national and international attention as a model for institutional support of virtual exchange. DePaul has offered over 200 courses with GLE projects, in collaboration with institutions in more than 30 different countries. In 2020 NAFSA recognized the GLE program with a Senator Paul Simon Spotlight Award for Campus Internationalization. GianMario has facilitated workshops on institutional approaches to virtual exchange at several universities around the world and has presented on the topic of virtual exchange at several conferences. GianMario was also one of the main architects of the Hyflex strategy recently implemented at DePaul.

GianMario earned his Ph.D. in Mathematics at the University of Notre Dame, IN, after completing his bachelor’s degree, also in Mathematics, at the Universita’degli Studi di Milano, Italy. He has published widely in the field of algebraic geometry, applications to computer vision, and computer science education. GianMario currently serves on the Steering Committee of the International Virtual Exchange Conference (IVEC) and the executive board of the Association of International Education Administrators (AIEA) as a member at large and chair of the Audit Committee.