Coil : From the Latin Colligere and the Medieval French Colliere: ‘To Gather together”

I received a B.F.A. in Film from Purchase College which is a school made up of arts conservatories and is part of the SUNY system.  There I took a course called Cross-Cultural Video Production with Professor Jon Rubin.  This was the start of Coil and it evolved into a Center that now resides at the SUNY Global Center in New York City.

While taking that year long course I didn’t quite realize the impact it would have on my life in the future.  In my sophomore year I created a documentary about coffee in Costa Rica and America where I explored the use of fair trade. During my review Jon told me to sign up for the course instead of the experimental one he offered that I had registered for in the fall.  At a time in conservatory life where there was finally a choice of what class to take, the faculty all nodded their heads in agreement and I found myself switching courses.  The exchange that year was between Mexico and Turkey.  Meanwhile my main documentary focus that year was a place film on land I had inherited in Arizona and its history.  The land is near the Mexico border and I did not take a single image of Border Patrol because I knew that the scope of that issue was impossible to cover in a short school project  However the cross cultural class wasn’t completely forgotten and after college I was hired to create a documentary about a family from the US and Germany meeting for the first time.

The idea of using the arts for multi-cultural purposes has been a re-occurring thought long before the film faculty all nodded their heads in agreement that it would be advisable to take an alternative course in the program.  Coil began as a Purchase faculty initiative and has evolved into what it is today.

I was able to attend the 6th conference held in March at the SUNY Global Center in Manhattan to learn what Coil had turned into.  At a luncheon, the chancellor of the State University of New York remarked, “we saw what Jon was doing at Purchase and thought we want that for us.”  It has evolved in innovative ways and courses are being done at SUNY schools but also at other universities.  The Coil Center has allowed for collaboration to happen in many ways.  In a world where we are constantly networked the coil course model allows for higher education institutions to work across borders and it provides the creation of a space that is a co-equal learning environment.

“The acronym COIL is used to refer to any pedagogical activities that use technology to link classrooms and students in geographically distant locations through coursework. Among the other terms used to describe such activity are globally networked learning, tele-collaboration, online intercultural exchange, virtual exchange, virtual mobility, and Exchange 2.0.”

– Corrina Waxman