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

Parrish's CALS grant allowed him to develop a highly interactive, internet-based module about the case. Students can now digitally explore the facility and watch interviews of Filipinos in hog production, the government, and consumers.

Other professors have used the grant to directly link American students to their counterparts abroad. UW-Madison botany professor Don Waller and plant pathology professor Caitilyn Allen connected a group of UW students with a group of Guatemalan students, all studying international agriculture. The classrooms were linked through internet conferencing, and during winter break the UW students traveled to Guatemala.

"The Guatemalan students were very interested in how much corn we grow and how we grow it," says Waller, "and our students were surprised by how Guatemalan agriculture is plugged in to international markets." Waller said the students were especially struck by the use of technologies like a two-story-tall sugar cane combine in Guatemala.

Like Parrish's students, Waller's compared Wisconsin and Guatemalan agriculture. They found that both sides had a lot to learn from each other.

Guatemala exports to highly specialized markets - from gourmet vegetables for Trader Joe's in the U.S. to ferns for European flower arrangements. The country also hosts U.S. plant breeders whose innovations are used back home.

Regardless of whether they travel to the country studied or learn about it online, today's UW-Madison students are ready to enter a highly internationalized agricultural world.

Source:  UW-Madison CALS