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ASU Thunderbird’s 100 Million Learners Global Initiative honored for excellence in inclusion, community building


Dionne Najafi, Sanjeev Khagram and F. Francis Najafi posing for a photo underneath a 100 Million Learners banner.

Left to right: Dionne Najafi, Sanjeev Khagram and F. Francis Najafi. The Najafis sponsor the 100 Million Learners Global Initiative through the ASU Thunderbird School of Global Management.

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May 31, 2023

The Thunderbird School of Global Management at Arizona State University was recently awarded the Association of Professional Schools of International Affairs (APSIA) 2023 Inclusion Award for Community Building for its Francis and Dionne Najafi 100 Million Learners Global Initiative.

“This prestigious recognition celebrates an initiative that bridged learners from all corners of the world with access to a world-class education and deepened a sense of connection within the community,” said Sanjeev Khagram, director general and dean of Thunderbird. “The Najafi 100 Million Learners Global Initiative's emphasis on technology, entrepreneurship and a global mindset also aligns with the skills APSIA aims to develop in students. The opportunity to showcase the synergies between Thunderbird and APSIA was one of the highlights of our year.”

Earlier this month, APSIA announced its 2023 award recipients in the categories of Impact, Inclusion for Community Building, Innovation for Professional Development Programming, and Intersection for Linking Theory and Practice.

“We are incredibly proud to receive this honor for the Najafi 100 Million Learners Global Initiative, which endeavors to eliminate the barriers to equal access to education and lifelong learning, all while advancing APSIA's mission by promoting the development of 21st century skills in learners across the globe,” Khagram said. “By providing access to high-quality education at no cost, the Global Initiative can serve as a valuable partner and resource for APSIA member schools as they seek to prepare students for the complex challenges and opportunities of the globalized world."

The initiative offers online, global education in 40 different languages, at no cost to the learner. There are three learning pathways and courses — Foundational, Intermediate and Advanced — available to learners of all educational levels. Women will account for 70% of the 100 million learners the program plans to reach worldwide. 

Learners who enroll in the Foundational program can choose to work through the Global Entrepreneurship and Innovation Bootcamp course in any of the current 20 languages. There are plans to expand up to 40 languages or more.

Once learners complete the courses in the Intermediate and Advanced programs, they will have the opportunity to pursue lifelong learning options and alternative educational pathways through Thunderbird, ASU or the academic institution of their choice.

“Based on the skill sets learners will acquire through the 100 Million Learner Global Initiative, they will be ready to improve their lives by accessing better jobs, launching new enterprises, and further impacting their communities and beyond in a positive way,” Khagram said.

Other nominees included Duke University Sanford School of Public Policy; Hertie School; IE University School of Politics, Economics and Global Affairs; National Chengchi University College of International Affairs; Sciences Po Paris School of International Affairs; Texas A&M University Bush School of Government and Public Service; University of Michigan Ford School of Public Policy; University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public and International Affairs; University of Texas at Austin LBJ School of Public Affairs; and the University of Trento School of International Studies.

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