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CHASTER 29 The Global Conte" of Agriculture Edna L. McBreen Slogan G. Schrarn, Rapporteur The internationalization of U.S. universities has become a nation- wide cause celebre, and not a minute too soon. As the country~s concern with economic competitiveness increases with every American purchase of a Japanese vehicle, government and business leaders are increasingly critical of the U.S. educa- tional system and the narrow isolationist knowledge base of our graduates, who are our primary product. The actions leading up to the Persian Gulf War, the military suc- cesses of that war compared with a relative lack of political and diplomatic successes, and the general lack of U.S. understanding of the social, cultural, and political aspects of the Middle East all lead us to conclude that our narrow perspective of the world will limit our political and diplomatic successes. The opening up of Eastern Europe and the enthusiastic anticipa- tion of growing consumer markets, teamed with the personal, heartfelt concern of Americans who trace their ancestry to Eastern Europe for the economic and political trials currently being experienced in that part of the world, have increased interest in area studies and languages related to Eastern Europe. Even though internationalization is highly acceptable in the higher education community, the definition and implementation of the in- ternationalization process are still a long way from being complete. In their report Internationalizing U.S. Universities Preliminary Sum- mary of a National Study," Henson and coauthors (1990) reported on a major survey of U.S. universities. As one of the first studies of its kind, the results are by no means conclusive. They do, however, give us some much-needed 251
AGRICULTURE AND THE UNDERG~UATE insight into the internationalization process and the support that exists for that process. For example, in reporting priorities for international activities by upper administration officials (deans and those in higher positions), of the 13 priorities listed, only 4 were directly related to the undergraduate curriculum: (1) encourage- ment of foreign language study, (2) inclusion of international con- tent and materials in the curriculum, (3) offering study or internship abroad opportunities for U.S. students, and (4) establishing or imple- menting area studies programs. The other priorities, such as recruitment and training of interna- tional students, support of faculty exchanges, and participation in development assistance projects, potentially could have an impact on the undergraduate curriculum; but they have not always done so in the past. Even though foreign language, inclusion of international content in the curriculum, and study abroad were selected among the top 4 of the 13 priorities, progress in these areas appears to be some- what inconsistent. While universities are experiencing significant increases in enrollment in foreign language programs and some increases may be occurring in study abroad programs (Zikopoulos' 1990), the report of Henson and colleagues (1990) was not terribly enthusiastic about the extent of the internationalization process in the undergraduate curriculum. In reporting the subjective results of the survey and follow-up interviews, some of the glitches in the process became apparent; for example, the incorporation of inter- national content into the undergraduate curriculum does not appear to have progressed very far at many institutions, and most respon- dents have not determined or defined what the optimum level of international competence for graduates should be, while even fewer are beginning to evaluate that competence. It is, perhaps, this lack of understanding of the optimum levels of international competence for graduates that is the major stumbling block for internationali- zation of the undergraduate curriculum and it may be the most important stumbling block to internationalizing the undergraduate curriculum in agriculture. Agriculture itself has become more and more subject to interna- tional trends and issues over the last decade, with predicted in- creases in that direction. In the December 27, 1990, K~plinger Agriculture Letter (The Kiplinger Washington Editors, Inc., 1990), which focused on agricultural research, developments were des- cribed in glowing terms, but news related to the international com- petitiveness of U.S. agricultural research was not so encouraging, as illustrated by the facts that the number of U.S. students who are training to be agricultural scientists has dwindled, and U.S. investment in agricultural research as a percentage of nondefense research expenditures lags behind that of the European Commu- nity, Canada, and Australia. 252
THE GLOBAL CONTEXT OF AGRICULTURE It has, no doubt, never been really appropriate to assume that a monopoly of agricultural expertise exists in the United States it is even less appropriate now. The U.S. agricultural industry has long been involved in export trade. in fiscal year 198~1990, exports of lo major commodities amounted to over $21 billion (Food and Agricultural Policy Research Institute, 1991). The volume of agricultural exports is projected to rise steadily after lsso 1991 because of the projected growth in international income and population. U.S. agriculture has always been subject to the realities of a global environment and the lack of respect that various agricultural pests have for political boundaries. Elementary school children in Texas understand that point when they sing a song about the boll weevil Looking for a home" and crossing the border into Texas. There appears to be no lack of understanding of the international trade impact on agriculture, there is considerable recognition of global environmental impacts, and there is a growing awareness of the value for U.S. agriculture of the international agricultural re- search community's work. Yet, almost no real progress has been made to ensure that graduates of our colleges of agriculture are internationally literate. On the other hand, many colleges of agriculture are beginning to consider the problem and the development of solutions to that problem. We acknowledge, for instance, that students in agricul- ture make up less than 1 percent of U.S. students who study abroad. Some colleges of agriculture are embarking on the development of international opportunities specially planned for agricultural students. There are still many questions to be answered in planning the internationalization of undergraduate education in our colleges of agriculture-but, surely, there are no questions about the need to do so. Some of the following are planning issues that need to be addressed: · With an ongoing commitment to serve U.S. agriculture and the respective states, what should be the overall level of commitment of U.S. colleges of agriculture to an understanding of international agriculture? · What are the levels of understanding and competence in inter- national agriculture that every graduate of a college of agriculture in the United States should attain? · What are the elements of international agriculture that should be incorporated into the undergraduate curriculum? · What role should study abroad and other international opportu- nities play in the undergraduate agricultural curriculum? HOW can those opportunities be specially tailored to the needs and career goals of agricultural students? · To what extent should colleges of agriculture rely on other 253
AGRICULTURE AND TtJE UNDERGRADUATE departments and colleges in the university for internationally ori- ented courses? · Do different majors within agriculture have different needs for internationalization? What are the international competencies that graduates in the various majors should attain? References Food and Agricultural Policy Research Institute. 1991. FAPRI 1991 U.S. Agricultural Outlook. Ames: Iowa State University, and Columbia: Uni- versity of Missouri-Columbia. Henson, J. B., J. C. Noel, T. E. Gillard-Byers, and M. 1. Ingle. 1990. Interna- tionalizing U.S. universities Preliminary summary of a national study. In internationalizing U.S. Universities: A Time for Leadership. Confer- ence Proceedings, June 5-7, 1991, Spokane, Wash. Spokane: Univer- sity of Washington. The Kiplinger Washington Editors, Inc. 1990. Kiplinger Agriculture Letter 6 1 (26): 1 -2 . Zikopoulos, M., ed. 1990. Open Doors: 1988-1989. New York: Institute of International Education. RAPPORTEUR'S SUMMARY In the current era of global competition and interdependence, there is growing awareness that the United States requires a higher level of international competence. The educational system at all levels is instrumental in raising those standards of international competence. The discussion in the Global Context of Agriculture group, led by provocateur Edna L. McHreen, centered around the broad chal- lenge of internationalizing the university, and specifically, the agri- cultural curriculum, toward the goal of adequately preparing agricul- tural students for competing well in the global economy. AS noted by McBreen, although we are making progress in inter- nationalizing the curriculum, there is still a shortage of U.S. stu- dents trained to deal with the international context. Exposure to the international context is particularly inadequate at the under- graduate level. In agriculture, for example, only a small percentage of students participate in study abroad programs. Internationalization of the Curriculum The group agreed that attempts to internationalize the agricul- tural curriculum currently take many forms. It may be requiring an international experience abroad as part of undergraduate study; it may be placing an international emphasis on a conventional major 254
THE GLOE3AL CONTEXT OF AGRICULTURE (toward the goal, for example, of preparing an agronomist to gradu- ate with a good set of international "tools"); it may simply be teach- ing more comparatively for example, how the soils of Mississippi compare with soils around the world. Some contend that interna- tionalization is merely the inclusion of a foreign language in the undergraduate curriculum requirements, although that was not viewed as adequate by the discussion group. It was clear that agriculture seeks to marry the intellectual with the practical, including the following: · academic course work combined with application through field trips abroad; · language training, not for its own sake, but for preparation for pending international field experience; and · semester abroad programs in which academic course work is combined with study of a different culture. Several examples of low-cost collaborative efforts on the campus also exist. At one university, for example, several colleges pool energies to bring resource people to the school for seminars. In some cases, students and faculty study abroad together. One state sponsored joint international seminars for both students and fac- ulty; another sponsored Fulbright cross-discussion group projects. One group participant summarized three actions that were needed to further internationalize the agriculture curriculum: (1) emphasize international interconnectedness in all agricultural courses, (2) help undergraduates to appreciate other cultures, and (3) develop new international courses. It was noted that the first two of these goals could be accomplished without additional resources. Internationalization of Faculty internationalizing the faculty is key to internationalizing the cur- riculum. in some states, sophisticated agricultural producers are more internationally involved and aware than our faculty. Perhaps faculty need to interact to a greater extent with industry representa- tives to assess industry's needs and discover how to better prepare globally competent students. The importance of the international perspective should be re- flected in tenure policy and should be stated in the missions of colleges of agriculture. Some states are very progressive in this regard. One state legislature has taken steps to encourage that rewards be given to faculty with international experience. Faculty exchange is important, not only for the personal enrich- ment of the faculty but also for the potential contribution to the internationalization of the university. One participant suggested 255
AGRICULTURE AND THE UNDERGRADUATE that the international competencies sought in students needed to be defined, and then a process for internationalizing faculty should be developed. Conclusion In summary, the group discussion indicated that there are many encouraging signs emanating from our colleges of agriculture and innovative steps being taken to internationalize the curriculum. In many ways, agriculture is avoiding the mistakes of others. For example, study abroad is not viewed merely as a vacation. In addition, agriculturalists are asking, Uinternationalization for what7 The college of agriculture approach is practical. We look to the result: How will the degree ultimately be used? How will interna- tional competence enhance students, employability in various fields? We have recognized that only one component, that is, 2 years of a foreign language, will not be totally adequate. Innovations in internationalization have employed flexibility and collaboration collaboration with colleges other than colleges of agriculture and with other institutions to capitalize on their strengths. Perhaps further collaboration is needed between graduate and un- dergraduate programs and through technological innovation such as AG*SAT (Agricultural Satellite Corporation, which links via satel- lite 34 U.S. Iand-grant universities so that they can share academic instruction, cooperative extension programming, and agricultural research information). The following challenges remain to be addressed: ~ How do all of the various international activities on campus fit together toward the internationalization of a campus? · How does the long tradition of work in international develop- ment through Title Xll and other programs enter into the equation? How can it enrich the academic curriculums a How does the university capitalize on the experience of faculty members returning from a development experienced · HOW do Title Vl area studies programs relate to the total pic- ture7 · How will the U.S. Agency for International Developmentts new Center for University Collaboration in Development help to interna- tionalize a campus and stimulate linkages between the various de- partments on a campus? · Is there a need for a clearinghouse of ideas on how to interna- tionalize the agricultural curriculums 256