As the faculty and students of the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences look back on 2014, one thing that may stand out is the number of days they spent traveling.
Whether working and studying at the college, or traveling to work and study with their colleagues around the globe, the study of agriculture is becoming an international endeavor for CAES faculty and staff.
“There is a lot of diversity here (at the college) and I enjoy being here to see people from everywhere,” said Yangzhuo Zhang, a postdoctoral researcher in the CAES Department of Entomology. Zhang traveled from China to study agriculture at UGA.
Zhang, who recently visited with other students at the CAES Office of Global Programs’ fall social event, found the number of countries and cultures represented inside the college striking.
That’s the atmosphere the college’s Office of Global Programs is trying to support, in part to enhance the international reputation of the college but also to enhance the quality of the education CAES students receive.
“Globalization brings with it the demand for a skilled agricultural workforce with deeper knowledge of other countries, cultures and languages,” said Amrit Bart, director of the college’s Office of Global Programs, which helps support the college’s international efforts. “Increased international cooperation this year has resulted in the college’s students’ improved international awareness, enhanced research programs and strengthened international partnerships.”
In the last year alone, 132 students traveled to 23 separate countries as part of one of the college’s study abroad programs. Over the course of their undergraduate studies, about one-third of CAES students travel abroad through a study abroad program, research project or exchange student arrangement. Further, dozens of international graduate and undergraduate students came to study at the college’s Griffin, Tifton or Athens campuses.
While student enrichment is a very important goal of the college’s international work, it’s also become important for CAES researchers to collaborate with scientists from around the world.
To that end, the college welcomed 96 visiting scholars this year. About 180 faculty and staff members from the college made 303 international trips, as part of either a research or outreach project or as part of study abroad programs.
While this year’s travels represent the college’s robust commitment to an international worldview, the Office of Global Programs works to enhance the college’s international reputation.
This year marked the beginning of a new strategic planning process for the CAES Office of Global Programs that aims to help the public understand the office's role.
“We have embarked on a thoughtful strategic planning process to map out our activities for the upcoming three years,” Bart said. “Lots of effort will be going into our communications, strengthening the International Agriculture Certificate Program and rolling out some new and improved programs, such as faculty travel awards and a seminar series.”
To keep up to date with the CAES Office of Global Programs, visit www.global.uga.edu.
(Merritt Melancon is a news editor with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.)