Study abroad to Vietnam links global food center and agriculture students

Michigan State University animal science senior Rachel Baumgardner will get a new perspective on the world when she travels from her rural Michigan hometown of fewer than 1,000 people to Hanoi, Vietnam, in March.

March 3, 2015

Michigan State University animal science senior Rachel Baumgardner will get a new perspective on the world when she travels from her rural Michigan hometown of fewer than 1,000 people to Hanoi, Vietnam, in March.

Thanks to a partnership between the Global Center for Food Systems Innovation (GCFSI) and the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources (CANR) at MSU, Baumgardner and seven other students will get the opportunity to study international agriculture during the weeklong trip.

Students will travel with MSU Extension staff members to learn about farmers who are increasing their animal protein production despite challenges such as climate change. Touring  private farms and meeting counterparts in agricultural studies from other universities will give the MSU students insights into the unique structure of Vietnamese agriculture.

“Overall, this is a great opportunity for students to develop personally and gain an awareness of other cultures,” said Elizabeth Karcher, academic specialist in the Department of Animal Science.

Four CANR faculty members and two MSU Extension educators will travel with eight CANR students majoring in animal science, agribusiness management, and environmental economics and policy.

“The interaction with Extension staff and campus faculty members during the trip is insightful and a strong learning experience for both the students and the staff members,” said Wendy Powers, professor in the Department of Animal Science.

This new collaboration will challenge students to develop a project after they return home – in addition to daily blogs posted on the CANR website during the trip – that will address their experiences during the trip.

“The GCFSI will use this study abroad to assess the impact of international experiences on an undergraduate student’s education,” said Charles McKeown, a specialist with the GCFSI.

Students will be able to take what they learned in the classroom and apply it to a real-world setting.

“The course is focused on environment and sustainability, which is at the forefront of agricultural issues in Vietnam and across the globe,” Baumgardner said. “I am excited to gain a new perspective on global agriculture and learn how other countries thrive.”

Before their trip, the group will meet multiple times on campus to learn about the culture and agricultural practices in Vietnam. Representatives from GCFSI will also meet with the students to provide a global context for the challenges in agriculture that they will see in Vietnam. 

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