UTIA and ColPos Cordoba Receive Grant to Launch Academic Exchange Program
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Researchers at the University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture (UTIA) and Colegio de Postgraduados (ColPos) Campus Cordoba in Mexico have received a $25,000 grant from the 100,000 Strong in the Americas Innovation Fund to launch a pilot academic exchange program, the first of its kind in Mexico to be offered to UT students.
The Innovation Fund supports the U.S. Department of State’s signature hemispheric-wide education initiative, 100,000 Strong in the Americas, to increase partnerships between higher education institutions in the United States and the rest of the Western Hemisphere. Co-sponsored this year by the Mexican institutions Fundación Banorte and Fundación Gruma, the Innovation Fund provides students with access to new models of academic exchange and training programs.
“Exposing students to a different cultures and travel experience should help them acquire valued skills to become successful professionals and improve their likelihood of employment,” said UTIA assistant professor and project leader Carlos Trejo-Pech. “Thanks to the generosity of the sponsors, students participating in this program will receive a scholarship to partially defray their travel expenses.”
The goal of this project is to create a platform for international collaboration between students and faculty from the partnering institutions. The project will create a faculty-led study-abroad course in Mexico, focusing on small- and medium-sized agricultural enterprises that will benefit UT undergraduate students from underrepresented majors in the current study-abroad program. UTIA faculty will accompany the undergraduate students to ColPos Cordoba and deliver the week-long study-abroad pilot course, tentatively scheduled for the summer or fall semester of 2021. Students will visit the State of Veracruz, engaging in experiential learning activities such as visits to preprocessing facilities of coffee cooperatives; plantations growing diverse crops such as coffee, citrus and sugar cane; and ecotourism enterprises.
The exchange collaboration will also benefit graduate students from ColPos who need internationalization experience as part of their curricula. Graduate students and faculty visiting from Mexico will visit the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, where they will have the opportunity to conduct research with UTIA faculty.
Mexico is an important trade partner for the United States. The U.S. purchases approximately 78% of Mexico’s total agricultural exports, while the U.S. supplies about 80% of Mexico’s total imports of meat and cereal grains. “As such, this program proves to be timely, seeking to increase technical and intercultural competencies for Mexicans and Americans engaged in agriculture, which could ultimately increase human capital and improve the well-being of individuals in this sector of the economy,” said Trejo-Pech. Faculty and staff collaborating in this project include Sara Mulville, Adam Willcox, Margarita Velandia and Roselia Servin-Juarez.
ColPos Cordoba is a public research and teaching institution and is part of ColPos, a broader research center fully supported by the Mexican Department of Agriculture, with seven campuses across Mexico.
Students interested in this newly developed program can contact the Smith Center for International Sustainable Agriculture for more information.
Through its land-grant mission of research, teaching and extension, the University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture touches lives and provides Real. Life. Solutions. utia.tennessee.edu.