Students Learn At the Cutting Edge of International Agriculture

Some students travel to the locations they are studying, but other courses are bringing stories home to Wisconsin classrooms.

Published on: Nov 29, 2013

UW-Madison students are preparing for life at the cutting edge of agriculture, from international markets to alternative production methods.

With funding from the Madison Initiative for undergraduates—a campus-wide effort to boost the value, quality and affordability of undergraduate education—College of Agricultural and Life Sciences has been helping professors integrate international experiences into their courses. This year students will experience life and agriculture in places as far-flung as Norway, Guatemala and the Philippines.

Some students will travel to the locations they are studying, but other courses are bringing stories home to Wisconsin classrooms.

Grants Help UW-Madison Students Learn At the Cutting Edge of International Agriculture
Grants Help UW-Madison Students Learn At the Cutting Edge of International Agriculture

Animal science professor John Parrish wants students to be ready to learn from real-world problems and solutions. He used his CALS course internationalization grant to build a case study on Filipino hogs.

His Filipino case study asks students to grapple with the problem of overheated hogs. When too hot, hogs produce fewer offspring—a familiar animal husbandry challenge in the tropical Philippines.

Parrish says the scenario equips the students to deal with climate change impacts at home. "In Wisconsin, we normally have had 12 days over 90 degrees every summer," says Parrish, "Last year we had 30. We are expected to average 20 days over 90 degrees by 2020."

Students examine the Filipino innovations and learn how they might be applied to hog production here in Wisconsin. Not only do the Filipino producers keep the hogs cool, but they also manage to maintain a hog facility right next to a housing development. There is no odor because all of the hog waste is processed in an anaerobic digester that powers the facility.