BHU, SVPUA&T and Cornell Students Collaborate to Promote International Agriculture and Rural Development

January 3–15, 2012 | India

As part of the Agricultural Innovation Partnership’s (AIP) commitment to improve agricultural education in State Agricultural Universities (SAUs) in India, six students from Banaras Hindu University (BHU), Varanasi; seven students from Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel University of Agriculture & Technology (SVPUA&T), Meerut; and 32 students from Cornell University participated in Cornell’s International Agricultural and Rural Development (IARD) 4020 and 6020 courses, which focus on agriculture in developing nations. This course was conducted by Cornell, in collaboration with faculty from BHU and SVPUA&T, and featured advanced e-learning platforms and an experiential field visit to India in January 2012.

The aim of IARD 4020 and 6020 is to provide an interactive learning environment, and short duration experiential industrial exposure in a host of thematic areas, to students of both Indian agricultural universities and Cornell University. In IARD 4020, students are exposed to a series of lectures and discussions, which establish a global and regional context for sustainable agricultural development and focuses on specific development challenges in India. IARD 6020 begins with a 2-week field-study trip that provides students an opportunity to observe agricultural development in India and promotes interdisciplinary exchange among faculty, staff, students and their counterparts. The remainder of the semester is dedicated to group discussions, written projects and oral presentations dealing with problems in food, agriculture and livestock production in the context of social and economic conditions of India.

Group Presentations
During the field-study trip, students were grouped by thematic areas and participated in several activities that address their specific theme. Groups worked with their team leader(s) during the trip to identify a topic that they will explore for the remainder of the semester including completion of a group presentation and project paper. One the last of the field-study trip the student were asked to identify their groups and to share their ideas on the topic of final presentation. The students were asked to maintain the diversity while forming groups in such a way that every group should consist of students from different universities. Simultaneously, two dates 31st March and 1st April were fixed for final group presentations by giving the students sufficient time of two months to prepare for their topics for final project presentations.

Sathguru coordinated in collecting all the presentations from Indian students and from Cornell students and shared the collated group presentations to all the faculty members in BHU, SVPUAT, TNAU and Cornell. Sathguru also coordinated with all the University for fixing up video conferencing facility. A couple of rounds of trail runs were conducted before the actual presentation date among all the four universities and Sathguru office for its smooth functioning. To ensure that the program should not hold back, we also shared a teleconference contact details with all the participating universities. Schedule of presentations was prepared and grading sheets were sent out to all the faculty members. Students were evaluated according to their performance in the presentation on the basis of certain parameters such as content, grammar, confidence, etc.

The students were divided into three groups (Group 1, Group 2, Group 3) and under three thematic areas (Agricultural Systems, Rural Infrastructure and Value Addition). Each student chose a theme and a related topic for his/her presentation.

IARD is partially funded by the Agricultural Innovation Partnership (AIP) and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The objective of IARD is to establish an interactive learning environment as well as provide industrial exposure in various thematic areas to students of Indian agricultural universities and Cornell University. IARD 4020 and 6020 have been very effective in bringing together different cultures and exposing US and Indian students to diverse views of agriculture and rural development.

View Report

View Photographs

View the “IARD 6020 Trip to India” website, including trip itinerary, photos and student blogs

View list of BHU and SVPUA&T students who participated in the IARD program

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