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IOUF at a Glance

Profile of a Unique Foundation

Written by Sandra Hurlong, PhD

January, 2018


The mission of IOU Foundation (derived from the progressive thinkers in adult education in the USA, Mexico and Europe, and theorists on person centered graduate education) is grounded in the belief that education, research, and capacity building is a key element in resolving pressing global problems. In an intellectual setting where disciplinary boundaries are easily crossed and collaborative learning is emphasized, learners are encouraged to develop programs focusing on social relevance and the ways in which the world’s peoples, with their multiple and conflicting interests, are to live together peacefully and justly.

Our Vision

IOU Foundation aspires to provide innovative, socially relevant educational programs of the highest quality to diverse adult populations and to actively seek to identify and reach those underserved by higher education.  IOU Foundation issues accredited dual PhD degrees, certificates, diplomas, fellowships, and also other academic awards and qualifications, as well as scholarships, awards, and other awards of academic accomplishments. In addition IOUF supports numerous social change projects in the USA, South America, Japan, Mexico, Asia and Europe.

The IOU Foundation operates as a charitable international educational foundation, and it maintains a registration as a charitable non-profit foundation in the United States. The Foundation is also registered as a non-profit charitable foundation in the Netherlands. IOU Foundation is an international partner with the Universidad Azteca and the Universidad Central de Nicaragua in offering accredited dual PhD degree programs. The Foundation is led by five administrative staff members and a faculty of fifteen members who serve as mentors to adult graduate learners seeking advanced degrees. IOU Foundation is staffed completely with volunteers with a sliding scale of modest tuition to cover operational costs and maintains offices in Spain and the United States.

IOU Foundation faculty volunteer their services as mentors to graduate learners because they are committed to the IOU Foundation pedagogy. Each faculty member has over 25 years experience in distributed education and in learner centered adult education and have accredited doctorates in their respective fields of study.

IOU Foundation is not a conventional educational institution. In collaboration with a faculty mentor, each learner creates an individualized curriculum of proficiency areas relevant to his or her chosen specializations. Again, with faculty mentors, each learner identifies a research area and how he or she will develop the skills needed to carry out the research.

IOU Foundation encourages the "scholar-practioner" model which is based on best practices in the field supported by the scholarly literature. Learners inquire about and reflect upon their own work and its social relevance. They are mentored by faculty to investigate important practical problems, to disseminate their research results to varied audiences, and to work with practitioners to implement and test research findings in their fields. IOU Foundation supports clearly defined learner and institutional quality assurance methods. Learners perform important and socially relevant work as they undertake their studies and develop their professions.

Our Values

Social Relevance

IOU Foundation requires that the programs of its learners reflect their awareness of the social implications of their studies and of their obligation to share knowledge with integrity in uplifting the communities in which they serve.

Scholar-practitioner Model

IOU Foundation advocates an educational process whereby scholarship and theory are connected and applied to real-world action and practice.

Collaborative and Experiential Learning

IOU Foundation considers the process of learning is as important as the content of learning and stresses self-direction, collaborative learning with peers and faculty, and the importance of experiential learning.

Accredited Dual PhD Degrees Offered:

PhD Degrees, certificates, diplomas, fellowships, and other awards of academic accomplishment

Areas of Study:


Environmental Studies

Health Sciences


International Business Management

Peace and Conflict Resolution

Political Science


Social Change

Social Sciences

Education for Sustainable Development


IOUF Information:

President: Sandra Hurlong, PhD, Anthropology
President Emeritus Fay A.C. de Jonge, M.Ed., PhD, Anthropology
Founder: Jan R. Hakemulder, D. Ed., Psy.D, PhD, D.Litt (hon)

The Foundation Model

IOU Foundation's founders were innovators and realized 30 years ago the benefits of establishing a university as a charitable foundation. Many contemporay universities around the world are now moving to the foundation model of organization.

"A university foundation, generally speaking, can be thought of as a not-for-profit independent legal entity established in pursuit of a specified public purpose. More formally, it has four defining features:

(i) it is an independent legal entitity;

(ii) it has a mission (or charter or mandate) to serve defined public (or national and societal) interest in higher education and research;

(iii) as a not-for-profit public interest legal entity, it has favourable tax treatment on its incomes, assets, and trading activities undertaken in pursuit of its foundation goals; and

(iv) it has the autonomy to raise funds and manage its assets in pursuit of the foundation goals, for which it receives favourable tax treatment."

See the following for more details : INDEPENDENT LEGAL STATUS AND UNIVERSITIES AS FOUNDATIONS by Abrar Hasan Visiting Fellow, International Institute for Educational Planning UNESCO, A paper prepared for the Ministry of Science, Technology and Higher Education, Government of Portugal, Paris 4 July, 2007.


Dr. John M. Toothman is a noted scholar on the small group experience. He has studied with the most distinguished professors of humanistic psychology and has offered his group dynamics seminars throughout the world. Dr. Toothman holds over twenty certificates in psychology and psychotherapy. He has received numerous awards for his teaching and development of social change programs. Presently, he holds the rank of  emeritus Professor of Psychology at Goldey Beacom College (USA) and serves as a Professor of Psychology to IOU Foundation and Universidad Azteca International Consortium (USA/Spain/Mexico). Dr. Toothman has published numerous books and research articles.


Dr. Sandra Hurlong is a noted educator and scholar in learner centered adult education. She is passionate about self-directed education and has devoted her academic career to implementing non-traditional approaches to learning. She is an internationally recognized scholar in culture and continuity and the anthropology of religion. She lives in Oaxaca Mexico when not in Europe or the USA.


Dr. Muneo Yoshikawa is a native of Japan and presently resides in Japan after he lived in Honolulu for about 35 years. He is an internationally recognized scholar and specialist in intercultural business communication with the people of different cultures. Muneo’s current professional activities include: Professor Emeritus at the University of Hawaii, President of International Mentorship Graduate School in Osaka, Lecturer at the Japan-America Institute of Management Science in Hawaii, Adjunct professor at the Pacific University in California, Adjunct professor for the Summer Institute of Intercultural Communication at Reed College in Oregon, Associate of Ken Blanchard Companies, Director of Holonic Paradigm Research Institute in Osaka.
He actively conducts various kinds of seminars in Leadership, mentoring, management for executives and middle management for many multinational companies primarily in Japan. He also conducts FD programs for faculty members of many colleges and universities in Japan.
Dr. Yoshikawa was originally involved as a mentor and international advisor to the Intercultural Open University Foundation since its inception in 1981. In 2012 Dr. Yoshikawa was presented the IOUF Peace Award for his life long dedication to peace and social change.


Dr. S. L. Gandhi serves as the President of the Anuvrat Global Organizations, an international NGO associated with the Department of Public Information of the United Nations. The Anuvrat Movement is a peace movement that inspires individuals to work for universal peace. Dr. Gandhi is one of the leading peace studies educator in India and over the past five years he has organized numerous seminars on peace and non-violence with delegates from over forty countries. He has dedicated his life to the moral and spiritual rejunevation of life and has been recognized worldwide with awards and honors for his work for the betterment of humankind. IOUF presented the 2000 Peace Award to Dr. Gandhi.



Dr. Rudi Jansma has studied neotropical ecology in The Netherlands and South America, but later specialized in intercultural philosophy relating to the attitude towards nature and views on ecology and evolution with several non-western cultures. Though a westerner, his lifestyle is mostly Jain. He is a noted scholar in consciousness and religion. He lectures internationally and has numerous publications, among which are, Introduction to Jainism; Karma and Compassion; Karma in the Oglala Indian Tradition; The Power of Ideas: Changing Human Consciousness; Evolution in the Vishnu Purana. He now resides in India where he is in close contact with the Jain community.

Anton Pieters has had a long and valued history with the IOU Foundation. He was instrumental in establishing and directing IOU Foundation's web presence in adult distance education. His ICT skills and creativity has enabled the IOU Foundation to remain one of the leaders in developing learners that dedicate their lives working for global social change.



Sandra Hurlong, PhD, President (USA)
Anton Pieters, Registrar (NL)
Roxanne Toothman, M.S., Advisor to the President and Director of Education for Sustainable Development (USA)
Janae Weinhold, PhD,LPC, Dean of Partnership Program, Universidad Azteca/Universidad Central de Nicaragua
Gulab Kothari, PhD, Honorary International Advisor (India)
Muneo Yoshikawa, PhD, Resident Representative (Japan)
Michael Curtis, M.A., International Advisor on Social Responsibility (USA)
Susan Crossman, M.A., Director of Communications (Canada)
Himanshu Gupta, B.Tech, MBA, Director of Marketing/Technology (India)



Intercultural Open University Foundation is an international partner with the Universidad Azteca (UAzteca) and the Universidad Central de Nicaragua (UCN) that awards accredited dual PhD degrees. The UAzteca and UCN validates the IOUF doctorate programs in line with the academic requirements of the inter-university doctoral programs. The Universidad Azteca is recognized and accredited by the Federal Secretary of Public Education (SEP) of the United States of Mexico. Universidad Azteca dual doctorate programs have the Recognition of the Official Validity of Studies (RVOE) from the Federal Ministry of Education of the United States of Mexico. UAzteca is listed with the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organizations (UNESCO) and the International Association of Universities (IAU). The Universidad Central de Nicaragua is accredited by the Ministry of Education of the Republic of Nicaragua. UCN is listed with the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organizations (UNESCO), International Association of Universities (IAU) an International Handbook of Accredited Universities published by the United Nations.



Registered as a Foundation (not-for-profit, non-government) 1982 and 1988, (Notary Mulder, Drachten; KvK number 41003178). The IOU Foundation is a international educational foundation for social change. Educational Foundations are public legal entities and enjoy financial and adminstrative autonomy.




Registered as a Foundation (Not-for-profit organization) 2009, (file number 4750897)

In April 2011, the Government of the United States of America declared IOU Foundation a foundation for public charity (DLN 17053271336040).



In 2010, IOU Foundation was peer reviewed by Hextlearn for quality in the innovative and creative use of ICT in higher education. The institutions composing the consortium include the following: Budapest University of Technology, University of Granada, EUROPACE, EFQUEL (European Foundation for Quality in E-Learning), EDEN (European Distance E-Learning Network), EIFEL (European Institute for E-Learning), EUN (European Schoolnet), EENet (European Education Experts Network), EUCEN, and EUA.


  • Hextlearn:European Commission of Higher Education
  • International Council for Innovation in Higher Education (ICIHE)
  • Asian Association of Open Universities (AAOU)
  • ANUVHIBA Peace Movement (India)
  • Respect for Age International (RAI)
  • International Association of Educators for World Peace (IAEWP)
  • League of International Universities (LIU)
  • Alternative Education Resource Organization (AERO)(USA)
  • International Mentoring Association (USA)
  • Worldview Impact Foundation (UK)
  • Universidad Azteca International Network (Mexico,Austria,Nicaragua)
  • Colorada Institute for Conflict Resolution/Creative Leadership (CICRCL)(USA)
  • Great NonProfits (USA)

Intercultural Open University Foundation Offices

Seco de Lucena 11, Granada, Spain 18009

2401 Woodland Lane, Arden, Wilmington, DE 19810 USA

Telephone: (302) 352-1733

Bank Account Information
IBAN/SEPA Number NL40ABNA0476212804
Bank name ABN AMRO
Bank Address Burg. Wuiteweg 12
Postal Code 9203 CK
City Drachten
Country The Netherlands