Huntsville, Ala. ---- Students at two historically black land-grant universities in Alabama are broadening their educational, research and cultural horizons, thanks to a $300,000 grant by the United States Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture.
Faculty and students at Alabama A&M University and Tuskegee University will continue through 2015 a focus on Brazilian agriculture that could impact curriculum, as well as broaden international competence and global experiences.
According to Dr. Zachary Senwo, professor of soil microbial biochemistry in AAMU’s Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences, despite the decades-old expansion of U.S. business into globalization, African-American students have not achieved the benefits of international and intercultural competence. Building and broadening the
international scopes at 1890 institutions is a necessity if faculty and students are to remain competitive and relevant in our changing global environment. The USDA-NIFA grant allows AAMU and Tuskegee to expand an international reach that dates back to the early 1900s.
“This project will strengthen the global competence of our students and faculty in food and agricultural sciences,” says Senwo. “It will also broaden their global awareness in a South American culture and open a more global vision through collaborative partnerships in Brazil.” Among the linkages established through the
project are the Brazil Agricultural Research Corporation (Embrapa), Federal University of Roraima, Agronomic Institute of Campinas, and the Federal Rural University of Rio de Janeiro, Seropedica.
During a more recent visit to Brazil, two professors and three students from AAMU and Tuskegee participated in lectures, research and training in agricultural sciences, visited agro-ecological integrated production systems, and observed organic farmers markets. The group was also able to witness firsthand the Brazilian approach to bacterial inoculants, bioenergy production, low carbon agriculture, meat goat production, land reclamation, and reduction of greenhouse gases.
A group will return to Brazil in the summer of 2014, and Senwo says proposals will be submitted to build upon such global engagement projects beyond 2015. One such proposal, he adds, will target establishing a relationship between the Alabama HBCUs and Rwanda and continue current engagements in Costa Rica. For the past three years, AAMU and Tuskegee have sent students and faculty to EARTH University in Costa Rica through an earlier USDA-NIFA funded project.
For additional information on the USDA-NIFA project, “Building Global Engagements to Enhance Faculty and Students’ Professional Development and Career Opportunities in Agriculture’s Challenge Areas,” contact Dr. Senwo at (256) 372-4216.
- Jerome Saintjones