BHEARD student reflects on U.S. Borlaug Summer Institute on Global Food Security

Cheryl Williams, a BHEARD student from Liberia, shared her thoughts about the Borlaug Summer Institute and what she learned there.

BHEARD students Cheryl Williams and Samuel Acheampong participated in the 2017 U.S. Borlaug Summer Institute on Global Food Security.

Both BHEARD (Borlaug Higher Education for Agricultural Research and Development) and the summer institute are named after Dr. Norman Borlaug, an American biologist, humanitarian and Nobel laureate who has been called “the father of the Green Revolution.”

The Borlaug Summer Institute, held for June 4-17 on the campus of Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana, provided participants with a holistic understanding of the challenges to global food security through activities such as lectures, field trips and a small group project.

Williams, pictured above with Dr. Gebesa Ejeta, director of the Purdue Center for Global Food Security, is a student from Liberia studying agricultural education and communications at Texas Tech University. Below are her thoughts about the institute and what she learned there.


My participation in the 2017 Borlaug Summer Institute on Global Food Security has left an indelible print on my academic journey. The mixture of students from different cultures, various universities and diverse disciplines made the two-week learning on food security issues worth the time.

The institute brought together 40 graduate students from universities across the United States, with interest in global food security and the determination to join the league of experts fighting global hunger and food insecurity. The rich lectures, ranging from factors affecting food availability, accessibility and utilization, provided students with a holistic understanding of the numerous challenges surrounding global hunger and food insecurity. Lectures ranged from the demand for increased feed, food, energy, water supply and agricultural resources for improved yields; and the complexities of providing more food on less land and taking into consideration gender equality issues in the agriculture sector.

Week-two lectures on governance were an eye-opener on the need for salient policies at the national, regional and international level to tackle the problem of world hunger and food insecurity.

The composition of students from various countries with diverse experiences and talents was one of my favorite parts of the summer institute. Working with these scholars, who had similar goals to combat food insecurity, changed my perception of tackling problems. I now understand that though approaches to addressing issues may be different, the goal is to find sustainable solutions to feed the growing world population and address food insecurity.

I left the summer institute fully empowered, having benefited from lectures and mentorship from some of the world’s best actors fighting global food insecurity, especially the 2009 World Food Laureate Dr. Gebisa Ejeta. His journey to becoming a renowned figure in battling hunger and food insecurity is a story that should be told to more students, so they can strive with determination to combat global hunger. 

My appreciation to BHEARD for supporting me; my adviser, Dr. Amy Boren, for ensuring that I receive the best tools to join other scholars in combating food insecurity and hunger; Purdue’s Center for Global Food Security; and my fellow hunger fighters Liberia Group for putting together a great proposal.

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