Shovels and clipboards in hand, students from developing nations around the world swarm a southeast Nebraska potato field, gleaning knowledge they’ll someday use to enhance food production in their homelands.
The 17 students are the vanguard of an international education partnership between the University of Nebraska’s Robert B. Daugherty Water for Food Institute and the UNESCO-IHE Institute for Water Education in the Netherlands, the world’s largest international postgraduate water education facility. The partnership agreement includes developing a joint master’s degree program in water and food, student and faculty exchanges, and research collaborations.
The students visited Nebraska in May 2012 for the inaugural field methods course, which UNL faculty developed in collaboration with their UNESCO-IHE counterparts. The course provides hands-on field experience with agricultural production and water resources management in Nebraska, drawing on UNL expertise in food production, irrigation and water management.
The joint master’s program begins during the 2012-2013 academic year. Other educational offerings, including policy courses for officials in developing countries, are planned.
This is one example of the international collaborations DWFI is building to achieve its goals. Others include:
- U.S. Agency for International Development: NU and USAID agreed to collaborate on expanding research and development capacities related to water management in the Middle East and North Africa.
- Jain Irrigation Systems Inc., India: NU faculty will collaborate on research and education projects under a recent agreement.
- Water Technology Centre at the Indian Agricultural Research Institute: NU signed a letter of intent to partner with this public institute on research.
- Global Water for Food Conference: Hosted by DWFI and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the annual Water for Food Conference is becoming a leading international gathering for sharing ideas on water and food. The 2012 conference in Lincoln, Neb., drew about 500 people from 28 nations.