St. Mira's College For Girls, Pune

Autonomous - Affiliated to Savitribai Phule Pune University * Undertaking

Re-accredited by NAAC 'A' Grade (Third Cycle June 2017) 2017 : NAAC score 3.41 2012 : NAAC score 3.03 Awarded: Best College-SPPU (2002); , UGC-CPE (2005), UGC-CPE (2010)


Mira International Learning Exchange (MILE) A Centre for Virtual Collaboration


Mira International Learning Exchange: A Centre for Virtual Collaboration arose out of its rewarding interaction with LaGuardia Community College, City University of New York and its programme titled COIL: Collaborative Online International Learning which “allows faculty partners in different parts of the world to develop a shared curricular project and engage their students using online tools (synchronous and asynchronous).” Globally other terms used to describe this practice are Virtual Exchange, Telecollaboration, Online Intercultural Exchange


To promote cross-border communication and exchanges of knowledge

To be part of a process that encourages tolerance, respect and sharing

To introduce potential ideas that could lead to other virtual collaborations

To open up new horizons in global teaching and learning

To connect teachers across the world to enhance research

To connect teachers across the world to enhance research

Outcomes of the MILE courses for participating students

Comparing issues, policies, and beliefs across cultures

Exploring global ethics (e.g. ethical tourism, COVID-19)

Exposure to and engagement with divergent perspectives

Critical reflection on how various participants view the world

Providing or receiving international peer mentorship

Serving as cultural informants

Addressing and receiving feedback from international peer audience

Writing collaborative academic papers


The Department of English, St Mira's College organised an FDP on 6th July 2020 at 6.30 pm (IST) titled "An Introduction to COIL-Collaborative Online International Learning" along with LaGuardia Community College, City University of New York to begin the process of training its staff for collaborative international online learning (COIL) with faculty across the world.

COVID-19 may have brought in its wake closing of borders but in the virtual world it opened up wonderful possibilities. Due to the success of its COIL project on the partition of India, the English department has taken the initiative to form a virtual learning centre for the college. The first step is this webinar to introduce the staff to the process of collaborative learning. It will be followed by several more interactive workshops and training sessions.

Dr Olga Aksakalova, COIL Co-ordinator City University of New York that has 17 colleges under its purview, spoke on the purpose, scope and objective of COIL. She covered topics like course content and teaching methodology, intra and interdisciplinary collaborations, student-generated learning and the use of technology for brainstorming, getting to know partners and to execute a programme of about 12-15 weeks. She said that one of the advantages of COIL is that, “it provides readiness for a globalized workforce by imparting 21st-century skills like the ability to communicate with or for a global audience via digital means.”

Dr Tuli Chatterjee (LaGuardia Community College) explained the difficulties of the Partition of India COIL programme and its aims which was to craft narratives of healing out of narratives of partition by educating students to work together and build bridges that remind us we are all human.

Dr Maya Avva and Dr Alice Baldwin- Jones explained their various COIL projects. Dr Avva is from the Department of Education and wishes to explore the parallels between Spanish and Hindi whilst Dr Baldwin-Jones a social anthropologist is researching food and the politics of hunger.

The staff at St Mira’s as well as the students are all fired up to share and learn and in the process hopefully contribute to a more peaceful, tolerant and inclusive world.

La Guardia Mira COIL: The Partition of India

On the 10 th of September, 2019, St Mira’s College Pune and LaGuardia Community College New York embarked on a path-breaking pedagogical experiment and they were joined by the Department of English and Humanities, University of Liberal Arts, Dhaka, Bangladesh and Institute of Communication and Cultural Studies, University of Management and Technology, Lahore, Pakistan.

In a world that seems to be building walls, these four educational institutions collaborated on a shared syllabus to understand narratives of partition and explore narratives of healing. The students studied Ice-candy Man by Bapsi Sidhwa, Train to Pakistan by Khushwant Singh, “Toba Tek Singh” by Manto, “Rabeya Apa” by Ashraf Siddiqui and the article “The Great Divide” by William Dalrymple. A total of 90 students from Pune, Lahore, Dhaka, and New York collaboratively read partition literature to celebrate both differences and commonality between diverse cultures and backgrounds..

Ummesalama Karu, a second year student from St Mira’s College, says the reason she joined COIL or the collaboration was, “to know about the diversity and how people in the world are different and similar to Indians.” To which the students at LaGuardia Community College responded, “We value diversity and look forward to discussing everything.” What a wonderful way to celebrate difference!!

Collaborative Online International Learning (COIL) Faculty and Student Showcase featuring MILE: St Mira’s College for Girls

Issues of Identity in India and US

The students of the Department of Politics and Public Administration enrolled for a MILE credit course, Issues of Identity in India and US, which included international collaboration and exchange between students from different universities and colleges. 30 students of the Department of Politics and Public Administration collaborated with the LaGuardia Community College, New York to study various issues of identity pertaining to India and the US.

The course was conducted in asynchronous mode on the Flipgrid platform wherein students participated in the course according to their time schedules. The collaborative learning aimed at enhancing student understanding of caste, race, religion and language. It aimed at inculcating a global perspective about diversity and discrimination. Ms. Veena Kenchi and Dr. Maria Savva (LaGuardia College) coordinated this MILE programme. The students have responded positively to this initiative and would love to explore more such opportunities.

Name of the Course: MILE: Issues of Identity in India and US

Course Duration: 30 hours 9th November to 6th December 2020

Number of Credits: 2 credits

Department: Department of Politics and Public Administration

Collaborating College and Department: LaGuardia College, New York

Whose Thali is This: Study of Food Cultures

As part of the MILE course on ‘Whose Thali is This: Study of Food Cultures,’ the Department of Sociology at St. Mira’s College, Pune collaborated with the LaGuardia Community College, New York. The main goal of this inter-cultural exchange was to gain comparative knowledge of food cultures and to understand food as an important element of social identity and distinction. The course offered students an opportunity to gain insights on social dimensions of food through various activities such as -

- Reading articles and reflecting

- Watching a movie followed by discussions

- Classroom Lectures

- Video-making

- Synchronous assignment on understanding diverse foodways

- Research project on ‘Navratri- the significance of food practices’

Students participated in all sessions with great enthusiasm. The use of innovative online platforms such as Slack facilitated intercultural communication and helped in breaking barriers of time and space. The Showcase session conducted on 14th December 2020 gave us a platform to share our experience of collaborative learning with the international community of students, teachers and scholars. It was indeed a very motivating experience.

Name of the Course: MILE: Whose Thali is this: Study of Food Cultures

Course Duration: 1st October - 8th November 2020

Number of Credits: 02

Department: Sociology

Collaborating College and Department: LaGuardia Community College, New York

Collaborative Online International Learning (COIL) Faculty and Student Showcase featuring MILE: St Mira’s College for Girls

La Guardia Community College, City University of New York (CUNY) developed a programme called Collaborative Online International Learning (COIL) to provide their students a global experience to expand their horizons. Through COIL, students across the world collaborate virtually via ice breakers, critical thinking, shared course material, classroom experiences, assignments and interactions. St Mira’s partnered with LaGuardia for the first time in 2019 studying the partition of India and other borders and partitions in the world. The exchange was so rewarding that La Guardia Community College encouraged and guided St Mira’s to start its own programme MILE: Mira International Learning Exchange: A centre for virtual collaboration. The two colleges shared 2 courses in the Fall Semester 2020 and hope to share another 3 in the Spring Semester 2021.

The culmination of all the collaborations is celebrated at the grand showcase which happens at the end of each semester at La Guardia Community College. This semester LaGuardia had 12 collaborations of which 2 were from St Mira’s. The topics varied from quality education, the pandemic predicament to addressing stereotypes around gender, race and religion. Faculty members and students from each of the countries shared their experiences, the methodology followed, the challenges and the rewards. Participants from Japan, America, Mexico. Egypt, France and Montenegro engaged in a truly warm and welcoming way encouraging each other with comments in the chat box and virtual clapping.

Veena Kenchi from St Mira’s collaborated with Maria Savva (PhD) (La Guardia). The students studied a course on “Issues of Identity in India & US: Comparing Caste and Race”. For Veena, “My aim was to make my students realise that diversity is global... People with diverse identities exist and we need to be more accommodative and tolerant about this. Diversity is the spice of our culture. This was my small initiative to make my students take note of this. The virtual exchange program has been a wonderful boon for understanding and enriching our experience about issues of identity in the world community. COIL/MILE has been a wonderful learning experience for me as a teacher. Planning, organising and engaging students internationally in a virtual space truly helped in enhancing student learning.” Padmavathi Ramakrishnan, TYBA (Economics Spl.) who took this course said, “COIL/MILE learning was a very useful programme. It was fun and knowledgeable. Having a healthy discussion on our cultural background and various other factors about each other’s country and expressing our viewpoints have helped me understand not only their culture but also ours in a better way. I was very happy to know that no matter where we belong, the youth of this generation want to live in an egalitarian society and truly believe in unity and fairness for all. I would want to take part in more such programs.”

Vaishali Diwakar (PhD) and Vaishali Joshi (PhD) collaborated with Alice Baldwin-Jones (PhD) (La Guardia) to share a course project “Food Culture and Identity Politics in India and US”. Vaishali Joshi is delighted as it was a “Wonderful experience of collaborative learning!! Our course on 'Food, Culture and Identity Politics' under COIL/MILE was a very enriching experience. Through this intercultural exchange, we understood the significance of food as a part of social identity and social distinction and also food as a unifying bond in diverse cultures. The Showcase program provided a platform to interact with faculty and students from all over the world. Collaborative exchange is indeed a very promising way of learning.” Gauri Raje, an SYBA Sociology special student who was part of this collaboration says, “We are indeed what we eat. The course gave us a global perspective to look at food beyond the basic necessity.”

To conclude Olga Aksakalova (PhD), LaGuardia COIL Coordinator, feels, “Students who participate in COIL exchanges learn to challenge stereotypical portrayals of culture as they engage in authentic interactions with their international peers. Through constructive dialogue and collaborative projects, they are often in the position to question such binaries as self/other, and to turn borders into bridges.”

The United Nations put down 17 guidelines for sustainable development of which the 4th guideline is quality education for all. St Mira’s and LaGuardia along with all their partners are so proud to have in their own small way invested in the future.

Brainstorming between LaGuardia Community College and St Mira’s College: In search of future collaborations, 25 th June and 4 th July 2020

Webinar: “An Introduction to COIL: Collaborative Online International Learning” For St. Mira’s College Faculty interested in participating in COIL, 6 th July 2020:

End July: Workshop on match-making teachers across the world

September and October: Workshops by Dr Olga Aksakalova

Hands-on training by MILE (St Mira’s college) and COIL (LaGuardia Community College) faculty respectively

December: MILE Webinar- Participating Teachers and Students to present their various Virtual collaborations, the hurdles and achievements