General Council

UNICollaboration General Council

In March 2022, the UNICollaboration General Council was established after elections were held among the general membership. The General Council constitutes the new governing body of UNICollaboration.  The list of General Council members can be found below, together with their individual statements on how they want to serve our organisation.

Under the new statutes, the designated term of office is 4 years. The General Council is responsible (among other things) for appointing the new Management Board of UNICollaboration.

General Council Members

Lorenza Bacino


I joined UNICollaboration during the Erasmus+ Virtual Exchange (EVE) project in 2018. During EVE, I was responsible for managing our HEI VE projects and facilitating online synchronous sessions in English, French and Italian for those educators who had developed VE projects through our training. I was the main contact point for the teachers who came to us to discuss their projects and how we could support them. I was also involved in the VE training during EVE – in French – both on the Introduction to Virtual Exchange training course and the Advanced (now known as VE Project Design). The EVE team supported and managed over 70 TEPs between 2018-2020 involving thousands of young people across Europe and the Southern Mediterranean.

I am proud to have contributed to the achievements of the EVE team and believe we built up strong and lasting relationships with our clients, several of whom continue to work with us and have gone on to develop successful VE projects themselves. Post EVE, I continue to work with UNICollaboration and have become more involved in the VE training as well as other administrative tasks.

I trained as an Online Dialogue Facilitator with Soliya and had facilitated half a dozen of their Connect programmes by the time I joined EVE and was confident in this role. My professional background is in journalism and teaching and I have used these skills to the benefit of UNICollaboration, for example interviewing people and writing up stories for the EVE website and more recently for the VAMOS project – another EU project that UNICollaboration is currently involved with. I believe my background gives me transferable skills that will benefit UNICollaboration as it moves forward in its new form with interesting and exciting projects.

Marco Cappellini

Aix-Marseille Université, France

Telecollaboration and virtual exchange have been my main interest for pedagogical practice and research since 2009. I had a first contact with the UNICollaboration team in London in 2011, when it was still named after the Intent project, and ever since I greatly profited from the many initiatives, conferences, and the tools developed. I was actively engaged in the activities of the association, with the organisation of the second research seminar in Aix-en-Provence in October 2018.
My main motivation to candidate is to get more involved in the activities of training and dissemination of the association, to continue spreading VE in higher education institutions. I can contribute in this through my participation in several international workgroups, such as the one on multilingualism of ForEU (the group gathering the first generation of European Universities).
As for the specific topic I’d like to bring to the General Council, it is research-related activities, to continue the work of the past and present research officers. For this, I’m ready to participate in the implication of UNICollaboration in the applications for funded research projects, as under the framework of Horizon Europe. I think UNICollaboration can also take an active role in exploring new possibilities in virtual exchange through (participatory) action-research, for instance concerning the integration of automatic translation tools in VE, or exploring the possibilities of Hyflex settings for VE. Last but not least, I’d be happy to contribute in young researchers’ training, as I did for the research seminar in 2018.
If accepted, I will put at the service of the Council my experience and skills for project management. Finally, I can bring experience in interdisciplinary pedagogy and research, to enrich the knowledge and competence already present in the Council.

Carolin Fuchs

Northeastern University, USA

One of UNICollaboration’s aims is “to promote the development and integration of research and practice in telecollaboration and virtual exchange (VE) across all disciplines and subject areas in higher education.” I would be honored to contribute my educational, editorial, and administrative experiences to this call – especially regarding UNICollaboration’s Publications section.
My higher education experience spans 25 years during which I have lived and worked in different contexts (Asia, Europe, USA). Bringing together diverse groups of participants through VE has been my top priority because I greatly value learning from different cultural and socio-institutional practices.
During my time as UNICollaboration’s first publications officer and co-editor-in-chief of the organization’s Journal of Virtual Exchange (JVE), I have been lucky to work alongside inspiring
colleagues such as co-editor-in-chief Müge Satar, members from the Editorial Office, and colleagues from UGP and Research-Publishing. As part of the team, I envision expanding the JVE’s scope by eliciting manuscripts from previously underrepresented communities. In addition, I would like to promote the dissemination of cross-disciplinary works, and to deepen existing ties with IVEC.
The administrative roles I have held at my institution and within professional organizations have prepared me for a range of leadership opportunities. In my capacity as Coordinator of Online Teaching and Learning at the College of Social Sciences and Humanities at Northeastern University, I have worked with colleagues and leadership across the college to deliver strategies and to promote collaborations across digital spaces. My experience chairing the American Association for Applied Linguistics’ (AAAL) Committee for Online Education and Outreach encompasses  managing five sub-committees. I imagine contributing to UNICollaboration skills such as organizing and moderating webinars, providing professional development resources, or making web contents available for members and non-members in line with a focus on diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility.

Sarah Guth

University of Padova, Italy

I am honored to be one of the founding members of UNICollaboration and the current president. Since we established the organisation our activities have grown quickly and greatly from the Journal of Virtual Exchange to our involvement in several funded projects from Erasmus+ Virtual Exchange to several smaller projects that we are currently participating in. Our team has grown as well, and Covid, despite the challenges and tragedies it has created across the globe, has also increased interest in virtual exchange and the types of trainings we can offer to allow staff and  students to connect with one another and learn from one another.
Virtual exchange is an emerging field even if many of us have been engaging in such activities, such as telecollaboration, for many years now. I strongly believe that UNICollaboration can play a fundamental role in moving the field forward, in the right direction, presuming it has the right leadership and can reach a broader membership. Now more than ever before, there is a need for a non-profit organisation such as UNICollaboration, which is not attached to or dependent on any specific institution. We can offer spaces for young people doing research on virtual exchange through our special interest groups, offer a space where experienced researchers and newbies alike can publish their work, and to offer trainings not only for teachers but administrative staff, technical staff and high level administrators as well. I have been a part of this process since the beginning which is why I would  ike to nominate myself to be part of the General Council of the new organisation. I think I can offer not only years of experience in the field of virtual exchange but also some continuity from the existing organisation to the new one.

Mirjam Hauck

The Open University, UK

I am a founder member of UNICollaboration and have served – until 2018 – as the organisation’s first training officer. I still provide training in VE Project Design for UNICollaboration on a regular basis.

Post-pandemic, VE – as has been pointed out at the British Council’s GOING GLOBAL 2021 conference – will “continue to play a vital role in expanding equitable access to the many global competencies and 21st century skills critical to success within the global economy”.

We do know though that VE is not innately inclusive, and it is increasingly acknowledged that VE suffers from Western hegemonies as much as other forms of online learning and teaching.
That is why – in my view – our community of practitioners and researchers needs to engage more proactively with VE as a gateway to critical Global Citizenship Education (GCE) which has notions of power, voice and difference at its core. This approach is – in my view – best instantiated through critical VE which leverages low bandwidth digital technologies for social justice-oriented action and socio-political change.

As a VE scholar and practitioner I would like to see UNICollaboration to engage more systematically with critical VE building on current best practice in inclusive VE.

As a member of the General Council, I intend to advance this agenda by seeking collaborative opportunities for critical VE practice informed by cutting edge research.

A recent large-scale study funded by the Stevens Initiative by a consortium of colleagues I called together after IVEC 2020 was a first step in this direction. It shows some of the reasons for marginalisation and underrepresentation in VE initiatives in the Americas, Sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East, and in Central and East Asia, and points to ways as to how the challenges identified could be addressed.

A lot more remains to be done!

Francesca Helm

University of Padova, Italy

I’m a reesearcher at the University of Padova at the Department of Political Science, Law and International Studies and much of my research has focused on virtual exchange and, more recently, on critical approaches to internationalization of higher education. I was one of the founding members of UNICollaboration and I was second research officer for the organization. I was involved with UNICollaboration in the monitoring and evaluation of the European Commission’s Erasmus+ Virtual Exchange project.

I have been interested in the policy side of virtual exchange, advocating with for VE to become part of higher education strategy in the European Higher Education Area, and I believe that our policy work through EC projects, position papers and recommendations has been effective – above all because of our collective voice and collaboration with other organizations whose values are very much in line with ours. Now that VE is beginning to enter ‘the mainstream’, I believe it is important to focus on what we see as core values in VE and education (for me these are: mutual learning and reciprocity, equity, anti-racism, social and epistemic justice) and to maintain a critical eye and voice on policy developments and practices.

I would bring to the position experience of research, practice and advocacy for virtual exchange, strong relationships of collaboration and professional development with colleagues both in formal and non-formal education and a strong desire to work with UNICollaboration to contribute to the field of VE. I see this as happening through critical and participatory research – with the active involvement of graduate students and the new SIG; professional development for researchers and educators and the creation of opportunities for ethical collaboration between institutions, NGOs, educators and young (and not so young 🙂 people of diverse disciplinary, geographic, cultural, ethnic and religious backgrounds – particularly in projects that seek to challenge Eurocentric, neoliberal agendas in education and society.

I would be willing to stand for the management board, though I do not want to take away the possibility from others who would bring a diversity of perspectives and expertise to what has thus far been a predominantly white, European organization.

Sake Jager

University of Groningen, The Netherlands

I am standing for a position in the GC, because I want to help UNICollaboration successfully transition into the next phase. I have been involved in the organisation since 2011 when the name UNICollaboration and its first website were established and have been a board member since 2016. The time has come for me to step back from the Board, but I want to continue to serve the organisation as a member of the GC.

My university is hosting and providing support for several communication channels used by UNICollaboration (e.g. website, listserver, email services, Journal of Virtual Exchange), for which I act as the main contact. I am also responsible for membership registration, and I am currently leading the transition process of UNICollaboration from León to Brussels. By remaining involved as a member of the GC, I hope to be able to gradually hand over these services to a new generation of UNICollaboration adherents.

Over the years I have seen UNICollaboration grow from a European project to a prominent global organisation for practitioners, researchers, policy makers and management with a strong interest in Virtual Exchange (Telecollaboration, etc.). What brings us together is a strong belief in the transformative power of Virtual Exchange as educational practice and a great enthusiasm to disseminate what we do to an educational world which is gradually opening up to it.

Since its first foundations more than 10 years ago, UNICollaboration has built an impressive record as a leader in this field, culminating with our participation in the EVE project and the new training and project activities which have followed from it. To sustain these activities in the future, we have established the new organisation, to which the GC gives direction and guidance. I shall be happy to serve on the GC to help UNICollaboration achieve its new aims and ambitions as best I can.

Alexandra Reynolds

Université de Bordeaux, France

I would like to apply for the General Council as a junior member so that I can become more involved in UNICollaboration and meet new colleagues. My experience in management positions involves being deputy head of a language center at Nantes University, France, and Deputy head of an English language department at Bordeaux University. My more recent responsibilities have been in the management of the internationalization at home programmes for Bordeaux University. My experience therefore mainly lies in the management and creation of pedagogical programmes and management of staff.

I am particularly interested in becoming more involved in collaborating with the Journal of Virtual Exchange, for which I have already acted as a blind referee.

Müge Satar

Newcastle University, UK

I would like to express my interest in joining the UNICollaboration Management Board and General Council.
I have been a member of the UNICollaboration Executive Board as second Publications Officer since the last board elections. In this role, I have acted as co-editor-in-chief for the Journal of Virtual Exchange (JVE). The journal is now in its 5th year and it has been particularly satisfying to see the journal begin to flourish and attract a wide range of interdisciplinary research and practice reports from around the world. In 2020, I chaired the UNICollaboration conference, which at the time merged with the International Virtual Exchange Conference. This enabled me to engage with the wider virtual exchange community and have a deeper understanding of the global directions in the area. The conference outputs led to two UNICollaboration publications: a conference proceedings and a JVE special issue. As part of my day job at Newcastle University, I am the Director for Global for the School of Education, Communication, and Language Science, contributing to the School’s global strategy and agenda. Within the School we have plenty of expertise in intercultural communication and internationalisation of higher education.

If elected, in my role as a General Council member, I will be keen to contribute to setting the medium and long-term agenda of UNICollaboration with a particular focus on our journal and publications strategy. In my capacity, I also hope to contribute to discussions and generation of ideas for other publication venues, such as monographs and edited books, through which we could reach a wider audience. I am also interested in shaping our agenda for networking events, fostering links with other organisations, training, and participation in EU projects. I will be willing to take on an active role in the Management Board in these areas.

Shannon Sauro

University of Maryland Baltimore County, USA/Malmö University, Sweden

I am running for a position on the new general council of UNICollaboration to ensure the success of the organization as it transitions to its new structure, to reinvigorate and diversify the UNICollaboration community, and to support UNICollaboration’s outreach and initiatives in training and development and involvement in international projects and partnerships.

I first became involved in virtual exchange more than 15 years ago as doctoral student. Since then, I have become a practitioner, researcher and trainer of virtual exchange both in the United States and Sweden. I am currently an associate professor in the department of education at the University of Maryland Baltimore County (USA) but also hold a partial appointment in the department of culture, languages and media at Malmö University (Sweden) where I work in English teacher education/TESOL.

Since 2018, I have had served as a member of the UNICollaboration executive board in the role of communications officers. In this position, I helped disseminate information to the UNICollaboration membership and beyond and have been regularly involved in the process of revisiting the mission of the organisation and in developing the new statures that were approved by the membership in autumn 2021. Since then, I have been part of the transition tea, whose responsibilities were to ensure continuity as the organisation’s new structure and headquarters replace the former ones.

What I bring to the general council is communication resources and outreach to the UNICollaboration community, particularly within Europe and North America, knowledge of the transition and start-up process, and institutional memory to support continuity of this process begun by the previous executive board.