February 28, 2013

College of Agriculture and Life Sciences International Program Turns 50

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The 50th anniversary celebration of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences’ International Program kicked off Feb. 15 with an event at Mann Library that attracted more than 150 individuals.

The program, which appointed its first director in 1963, aims to tackle international agricultural issues such as sustainability and food security, according to its website.

The first event is a part of a yearlong celebration consisting of monthly programs that will discuss the program’s projects and goals, according to Linda McCandless, communications director of the program.

In a speech at the event, Prof. Sarah Davidson-Evanega, plant breeding and genetics, senior associate director of the program, lauded the program for its projects and the opportunities it offers.

“We plan to celebrate successful International Program-CALS partnerships,” she said.

During the event, speakers affiliated with the program told international faculty, students and staff about upcoming projects and partnerships, according to McCandless.

Davidson-Evanega said that the program received $25 million from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the United Kingdom Department for International Development. The new funding will support NextGen Cassava, an International Program-CALS program that aims to improve the breeding of cassava, the staple food crop in sub-Saharan Africa.

According to Prof. Peter Hobbs, crop and soil sciences, international travel is a vital component of the International Program.

“One of the requirements of the undergraduate [Inter­national Program] major is to spend at least two months overseas [gaining] an international experience,” he said.

Apart from globalizing the Cornell experience through study abroad opportunities, the program aims to impart leadership skills to graduate leaders in the scientific community,” according to Davidson-Evanega.

International Program-CALS professors, staff and students are invested in projects all over the world, which is consistent with   University President David Skorton’s stated goal of having at least 50 percent of Cornell students studying or working abroad, according to McCandless.

“International Program-CALS can help Cornell meet that goal,” she said.

The program’s next event will be held on March 8, which is International Women’s Day, and will feature a discussion on the role of women in agriculture.

This year, the International Program aims specifically at training female leaders abroad with its new program, Advancing Women in Agriculture through Research and Education, according to Davidson-Evanega.

The AWARE program “ensures that gender is considered in every aspect of what we do,” Davidson-Evanega said. She said that she is confident that “we will see a more diverse set of leaders celebrated” by the 100th anniversary of the program.

Original Author: Emma Quigley