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Ms. Alia Gilbrecht, An-Najah International Officer and Project Coordinator for An-Najah's Green Futures Exchange Project presented at the Stevens Initiative 2018 Virtual Exchange Forum in Washington, D.C.


Ms. Gilbrecht delivered a presentation entitled: ‘Learning in the Margins: Observations from Virtual Exchange Project Based Learning (PBL) and Green Buildings Education'.  The presentation analyzed the project's unique model of virtual exchange and discussed some of the unanticipated outcomes.

The Green Futures Exchange project is a virtual exchange collaboration between An-Najah's Construction and Transportation Research Unit and the Office of International Development and External Affairs and Arizona State University.  The project is led by Dr. Mutasim Baba, Director of the Building and Transportation Research Centre, Dr. Sameh Mona, Assistant Professor of Architecture, Ms. Alia Gilbrecht, International Officer and Dr. Muhannad Haj Hussein, Head of the Building Engineering Department. 

The project virtually connects university students studying architecture and building engineering in Palestine and Arizona providing them with a deeper understanding of environmental sustainability concepts and green buildings through project-based learning culminating in a competition.

The project also engages with high school students in Balata Refugee Camp as well as from the United States through capacity building trainings and site visits on sustainability and green buildings. 

The unique project model incorporates several different educational strategies including project based learning focused on green buildings and a competition among the Project Based Learning teams and virtual exchange. These different components have proven to work together to maximize student motivation and help break down cultural, language and educational barriers while also increasing understanding of the socio-political context of Balata Refugee camp for both the Palestinian and American university participants.

The annual Stevens Initiative Virtual Exchange Forum brings together dynamic organizations and higher education institutions using technology to connect classrooms in the United States with peers around the world for collaborative learning that allows young people to develop 21st century skills. The forum brought together practitioners and educators to share knowledge about cutting-edge work, meet peers in the field and discuss solutions to shared


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