AGNR Re-Energizes International Programs with New Faculty and Staff Empowerment Effort

May 9, 2024 Taryn Devereux

On April 3, 2024, the International Programs in Agriculture & Natural Resources (IPAN) office hosted an interactive and interdisciplinary event, “Your Ticket to Work Internationally: Training, Networking & Informational Workshop,” designed as a space for faculty, staff, Extension specialists and students to come together and discuss opportunities for international and cross-cultural engagement.

The workshop was attended by over 50 people, representing a mix of stakeholders from both campus and county Extension offices. Dean Craig Beyouty kicked off the event with opening remarks about his vision for international engagement in AGNR, stressing the importance of finding ways to serve those who need it most through research and Extension partnerships. As a major research institution and land-grant university, UMD is uniquely positioned to provide technical assistance, knowledge exchange and support in agriculture and natural resource management to partners around the world. 

IPAN director Dr. Jimmy Smith then highlighted the importance of international work at AGNR, and discussed some exciting new initiatives, including the RSIF Program, in which AGNR will offer internship opportunities for visiting doctoral students from select African universities to train, conduct research, and build capacity to innovate when they return to Africa. As an RSIF International Partner Institution, UMD is committed to investing in the next generation of highly skilled scientists and professionals in applied sciences, engineering, and technology. 

The event included four interactive sessions, starting with Session One (“Where in the World is AGNR?”) which used an interactive map tool to highlight AGNR activities around the world. Participants had the opportunity to submit their information to feed into the data visualization tool and the group discussed best uses both internal and external. 

Session Two (“Learn from AGNR’s Leading Globetrotters”) set up three table stations for participants to meet, network and learn from invited special guests about opportunities in international research, extension and academic initiatives. Guests included faculty, Extension specialists and students who had 

At the research table, the guests led a conversation around programs like RSIF, Fulbright and other research fellowships, opportunities for junior faculty, and best practices for international participatory action research and interdisciplinary collaborations.

The Extension / outreach table group discussed opportunities such as the USAID Farmer-to-Farmer Program, associations and international networks, international extension systems and projects, and ways for students to get involved in hands-on work. 

The academic / teaching table covered international and cross-cultural student experiences. In addition to study abroad experiences, UMD offers Global Classrooms - virtual, project-based courses - on campus that pair students with counterparts at an institution abroad. The group discussed developing relationships and working within academic institutions.

Session Three then focused on “Building Cross-Cultural Partnerships.” This session encouraged participants to reflect and engage on how identities inform cross-cultural collaboration, and discuss best practices and competencies for engaging in ethical, mutually beneficial and transformative cross-cultural and global partnerships. 

Finally, Session Four (“Hosting Scholars and Funding Opportunities for International Activities”) invited panelists from across campus to discuss resources and pathways for hosting visiting scholars or becoming one yourself, and best practices for identifying and applying for funding opportunities to support international efforts. 

Following the sessions, a catered lunch provided a networking opportunity. Often these more informal meetings are just as valuable as structured sessions and can lead to interdisciplinary collaborations, knowledge exchange and morale boosting. This continued after lunch as the space was available until 3pm for participants to continue meeting, networking, and checking out the faculty and graduate student posters on display. 

Looking forward, IPAN wants to capture momentum from this event to strengthen international engagement across the college. Our mission is to provide resources and support to faculty, staff and students interested in collaborating with educational institutions, organizations and agencies around the world. Given the globalized nature of food systems and challenges like climate change, our best path forward is through meaningful collaborations and exchanges where the global meets the local. 

IPAN recommends that anyone interested in getting started with international activities or for more support on ongoing work, to reach out to Jimmy Smith or Ann Leger

If you’re a current AGNR employee and want to contribute to the AGNR Global Database, please use the following form.