GREENVILLE, N.C. (5/24/2021) – East Carolina University has been selected to receive an IDEAS (Increase and Diversify Education Abroad for U.S. Students) grant from the U.S. Department of State’s Capacity Building Program for U.S. Study Abroad.

ECU is one of 26 colleges and universities out of 132 appliants from across the United States selected to create, expand, and diversify study abroad programs for students. The grant totals $33,862. This program is funded by the U.S. Department of State and supported by World Learning.

ECU will implement the Virtual Exchange to Study Abroad (VESA) for the Artsprogram with the assistance of the IDEAS grant.

According to Dr. Jon Rezek, ECU assistant vice chancellor for global affairs, VESA for the Arts is an innovative new educational model that will connect ECU students in art, dance and music with students at institutions in Abu Dhabi, Nairobi and Taipei to work on collaborative projects in their field of study during the spring semester. The students will then travel to those locations during the summer to complete these projects with their international peers and study the artistic and entrepreneurial culture in these regions.

“This type of program allows students to develop their intercultural skills and make the personal connections that will allow their subsequent study abroad experience to be even more robust,” said Rezek. “ECU has been a world leader in international virtual exchange for nearly two decades and this program allows us to leverage that expertise to build a new and more impactful model for international education – one that highlights our focus on student success and our commitment to developing innovative instructional methods.”

In addition to the IDEAS grant competition, the State Department’s Capacity Building Program for U.S. Study Abroad also offers opportunities for faculty, staff and administrators at U.S. colleges and universities to participate in a series of free virtual and in-person study abroad capacity-building activities.

“The U.S. Department of State is committed to expanding study abroad opportunities for Americans of all backgrounds studying at colleges and universities across the United States. Americans studying abroad serve as citizen ambassadors by building relationships within their host communities, demonstrating American values and countering stereotypes. They also gain critical job skills abroad that in turn benefit their home communities. We are committed to continuing our strong support for U.S. colleges and universities as they build their study abroad capacity now, in anticipation of a strong return to U.S. student mobility in the future,” said Heidi Manley, USA study abroad chief, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.

For a full list of 2021 IDEAS grant recipients, visit the program’s website at

Funded projects are supporting such activities as developing new international partnerships and programs, training faculty and staff, internationalizing the curriculum, creating resources to engage diverse student groups in study abroad, and creating virtual exchanges. Once international travel resumes in full, these IDEAS grant recipients will be better equipped to deliver impactful and inclusive study abroad programs around the globe.