Portals bring global learning to every campus


Access local knowledge

Portals provide global access to the local knowledge of the world. This academic infrastructure puts both researchers and students directly in touch with locals from Nairobi to Mexico City. Like a library, Portals are a resource for faculty that opens new modes of research, learning, and study.


Facilitate global learning

Portals complete the promise of intercultural learning by globalizing domestic campuses. These hubs of international knowledge ensure that colleges include voices from every corner of the world, so that students don’t have to rely on exchange programs to develop global competency.


Amplify distant voices

Portals enable faculty to bring unheard perspectives into the classroom. Universities that don’t engage with the international community risk isolation – by connecting students with people separated from them by distance and difference, Portals ensure colleges remain open and diverse.

Video: Harvard University students learn with refugees in Iraq, Jordan, and Germany.

Featured Case Studies

Cornell University Library


Cornell University’s Olin Library hosted the Portal for three months, helping faculty to incorporate Portal connections into their curriculum.

In a joint seminar between students at Cornell and students in San Pedro Sula, Honduras, professors lead a group discussion on the topic of black speculative thought and afrofuturism. In a music class, faculty organized a jam session between American folk musicians in Ithaca and traditional Afghan musicians at the National Institute of Music in Kabul. Meanwhile, University President Martha Pollack used the Portal to speak with young computer programmers in Herat, Afghanistan about education and women in STEM.

The Cornell Portal was one of the most rewarding projects for me because it shares an essential similarity with librarianship: They both connect people with facts, knowledge, culture, and human experiences.
— Associate University Librarian, Xin Li

Over 2300 people came to engage with the Portal during this three month engagement, both formally as part of a class, or casually during one of the Portal’s open hours.

Our gold books, in which participants leave handwritten feedback on their sessions, will be entered permanently into the Cornell University Archive. Read more about the Cornell_Portal on Cornell’s blog.

Texas State University

Photo by Mena Yasmine,  The University Star

Photo by Mena Yasmine, The University Star

In partnership with the Texas State Galleries, University faculty brought the vast diversity of human experience to their students through our global network of Portals. A Portal was placed at Texas State during the Fall 2018 semester, where it connected groups of students, faculty, local K-12 schools, and community members over a 6-week placement.

Student experiences ranged from dialogues with attendees at the Biden Cancer Initiative, to dance collaborations with Mexico City with choreographer Ana Baer Carrillo. With the Biden Cancer Initiative, nursing students shared their experiences caring for patients with cancer, and heard directly from experts and researchers about best practices in oncology.

Boston College

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As well as connections open to all students, faculty incorporated the Boston College Portal into their curricula. These connections included a late evening dialogue between young people in Myanmar and students studying ethics and religion, discussions between the Arab Students Association and the Portal in Amman, Jordan, and regular encounters with citizens in Nairobi, Berlin, Kabul, and Mexico City.

In partnership with the International Studies Program and the Boisi Center for Religion and American Public Life, this Portal was placed outside O’Neill Library during the Fall 2018 semester. A wide range of groups, including students, faculty, local K-12 schools, and community members, participated in Portal programming over the course of the 6-week placement.

Johns Hopkins University Portal Hackathons

JHU’s Center for Bioengineering Innovation & Design uses Portals to host international design challenges between Baltimore and the Middle East.

Students in Amman or Gaza City team up with students at JHU and work together to solve pressing health problems. The program teaches transferable design skills and cross-cultural collaboration to students on each side of the Portal.

Traditional international hackathons require sending a team to another part of the world. But that approach excludes participants with commitments at home and puts a burden of travel on innovators that need to be energised and rested.

Portal hackathons let teams share the same space without leaving their home institution - carrying all the benefits of international hackathons without flying participants around the world.