College of Education

International Programs

About Us Program Directory  Study Abroad IGlobal Visiting Scholars Witt Lab for International Education

Witt Lab for International Education

Leadership Team

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Allison Witt

Allison Witt is the Director of International Programs in the College of Education at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign where she teaches Global Studies in Education and is the Program Leader for the International Education Administration and Leadership program. Allison is a former Assistant Director of Academic Affairs at the Illinois Board of Higher Education where she contributed to state higher education policy in Illinois. She is the author of Shifting Tides in Global Higher Education (2011) published by Peter Lang. Allison earned a PhD in Education Policy Studies from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She has worked in international education for over 20 years, now with particular interest in internationalizing teacher education.

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Wei Liu

Dr. Wei Liu is the Associate Director of International Programs. Dr. Liu teaches CI 499 and EDUC 499 study abroad courses. These courses introduce comparative education inquiry and provide space to consider the cultural, political, and ethical implications of engaging in education travel and research in cross-cultural, global contexts. Dr. Liu earned a Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Her current research focuses on teachers' conceptualizations across cultures from a cultural psychological perspective. 

Jacob Neal Minniear 

Dr. Jacob Neal Minniear taught English as a Second Language (ESL) and English as a Foreign Language (EFL) to diverse groups of children and adults in the United States, France, and Turkey. His career began as a middle school teacher, and he has since been involved in several U.S. government programs, including as an English Language Fellow with the U.S. State Department, a Foreign Language and Area Studies (FLAS) Fellow specializing in Arabic and Turkish, and a researcher with Fulbright and EducationUSA in Peru. Having lived abroad for most of his adult life, Jacob's passion for international education was sparked during his high school and undergraduate studies in France. He has coordinated study abroad programs in France, Greece, and Italy for nearly a decade and holds a Master's in Second Language Education from The University of Kansas and a Doctorate in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. At Illinois, Jacob has taught various courses in the College of Education, focusing on bilingualism, literacy, social studies, and international education. His research explores the impacts of study abroad on teacher development, the sociological aspects of bilingualism, and virtual language teaching.  He is particularly interested in exploring how the role of cultural and social capital impacts study abroad experiences.

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Janine Schleter Solberg

Janine Schleter Solberg has been involved with IGlobal since its inception. She defended her dissertation, “Expanding higher education in the Global South: A case study in the central highlands of Angola” in August of 2023, and earned a PhD in Education Policy, Organization & Leadership: Global Studies in Education in May, 2024. Prior to her PhD from the University of Illinois, Janine earned a B.S. in economics and an M. Ed in curriculum and instruction, both from the University of Illinois. She also earned an M.A. in history from Northern Illinois University and spent many years teaching history and economics courses at the secondary level. Her current research interests include expanding education in the Global South and the impact of the digital divide on educational opportunities. 

Graduate students


Lu Xu

Lu Xu is a Ph.D. candidate in Education Policy, Organization and Leadership program at the College of Education, University of Illinois, with a concentration in global studies in education. With a general interest in global study and education, her research mainly focuses on global teacher education, global citizenship education, and online education. Currently, her work aims to cultivate preservice teachers' abilities, including global competence, digital skills, etc., to teach in a multicultural, multinational context. 

Gertie Bakalus 

Gertie Bakalus is a current doctoral student at UIUC in the Education Department. She holds a Master’s degree in Curriculum and Instruction, specializing in language and literacy. Concurrently, she obtained an English as a Second Language Endorsement which supports her dedication to teaching English Language Learners. Gertie also earned a Master’s in Education Policy, Organization and Leadership with a concentration in Social Sciences, earning certificates in Diversity and Equity, Global Studies, and International Education Administration and Leadership. Her research interests span interdisciplinary topics from her experiences teaching at the University’s Reggio Emilia inspired lab school and bilingual international settings.

Visiting scholars

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El Souefi 

El Souefi is an EdD holder from the University of Leicester – UK. She is currently the CEO of ‘Edupedia’ for Educational Consultation, Training, and Curriculum Designing. Besides being a research member in IGlobal, she is a research associate in the Gender Equality Partnership Project at University of Bath, UK in collaboration with Cairo University, Egypt.


El Souefi has a long practical international experience in education. She was the Regional Development & Recognition Consultant for the International Baccalaureate Organization (IBO) in Egypt. She also headed the Curriculum Review Committee for the Graduate school of Education at the American University in Cairo.



Alicia Cabrera-Prado 

Alicia Cabrera-Prado earned her PhD in Education Policy, Organization, and Leadership Program at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign in 2023. Her research interests include Dual Language teacher training and study abroad programs, Cultural Sustaining Pedagogies, DEI, and Dynamic Bilingualism. Prior to coming to UIUC, Alicia worked in education as a National Board-Certified high school Heritage Spanish teacher, a department chair for World Languages, and as an assistant principal.


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Aigul Rakisheva

Aigul Rakisheva is a third-year Ph.D. student at the University of Illinois-Urbana Champaign, USA. She is currently pursuing her doctoral degree in Education Policy, Organization, and Leadership Department with a Global Studies in Education concentration. Aigul is actively engaged in research and teaching activities at UIUC. Her research focuses on Virtual Exchange, Information and Communication Technologies, and Initial Teacher Education, contributing to various research projects in these areas.

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Allison Hinds

Allison Hinds is a third-year Ed.D. student in the Department of Education Policy, Organization and Leadership with a concentration in Global Studies in Education. Her research interests include alternative approaches to study abroad as a means to enhance intercultural competence in pre-service teachers. In the iGlobal lab, she is studying the effectiveness of virtual teaching internships in developing pre-service teachers’ cultural understanding of self and others. Additionally, Allison is interested in the long-term impacts of study abroad as perceived by study abroad alumni and the potential role these experiences may play in developing their professional identity.

Sadia Mazid

Sadia Mazid 

Sadia Mazid is a first-generation immigrant student in her family from Bangladesh, a Southeast-Asian country. She completed her MBA before coming to the US and is now pursuing her doctoral degree, majoring in HRD at the College of Education. As part of her assistantships, she worked as a museum educator & researcher at the Spurlock Museum for four years. During COVID, she joined the IGlobal team to develop and educate curriculums on online platforms by utilizing the UN SDGs framework. Her current research focuses on the role of cultural diversity in sharing work-related information among blended virtual/in-person team members.