Exchanging Ideas

MU Hosted Five African Scholars During Fall 2012

Faculty Exchange Program scholars enjoy the Bradford Research Center Tomato Fest this fall. From left to right: Dr. Michael Masanza (Uganda), Mr. Fabien Matsiko (Rwanda), Dr. Willis Owino (Kenya), Dr. Gration Rwegasira (Tanzania) and Dr. James Muthomi (Kenya).

Five Faculty Exchange Program (FEP) scholars from Uganda, Rwanda, Kenya and Tanzania spent the Fall 2012 semester at MU. Prior to arriving in Columbia, the FEP scholars competed for the five positions among nearly 80 applicants. Once selected, they developed plans of work that outlined their professional objectives and goals for their 14 week stay in Columbia. While at MU, they audited classes in their specialization areas; worked with MU mentoring professors to develop new and revised course outlines for courses they teach at their home universities; and traveled on field trips to farms, agribusinesses and extension offices to gain a deeper understanding of how agricultural systems operate in the U.S.

The FEP scholars completed a monthly report for MU mentors and USDA program monitors to document their progress toward achieving their goals. Program coordinators, William Meyers and Kenneth Schneeberger, worked closely with the visiting scholars and their mentors to ensure each scholar had the support needed to achieve their goals.

The three MU mentor faculty will travel to Africa in 2013 to consult with their FEP mentees. Mentors will assist the FEP scholars on any issues associated with implementing and institutionalizing the new curricula developed while at MU. Also, the MU mentors and their FEP scholars will deliver short curriculum training sessions for faculty at the FEP scholar’s home university. These sessions will target plant health, biosafety, food security and sustainable agriculture.

“We were very pleased to be selected to host these outstanding scholars,” FEP program co-coordinator Schneeberger said. “The FEP is a prize program for a university to host. This was our first time to be selected.  It’s not just a scholarly experience, but a cultural one too,” Schneeberger said. “The FEP creates a global community, which we need to have. International connections and networking are very important. We learn from them, they learn from us. The mentors and scholars are already developing four grant proposals for future collaboration.”

Here is how one FEP scholar, Dr. James Muthomi  from the University of Nairobi, summed up his experience:

“I thank you all for the great support and assistance during my stay at MU. The program was well organized and we had an opportunity to learn new ideas in terms of the academic courses; the workshops on mycotoxin, SPS and teaching were enriching to our professions; the accommodation at Stoney Creek Inn was excellent; the social support in the form of assistance in groceries shopping, attendance to Church, & cultural excursions were perfect; tours to industry (Novus, Monsanto, Danforth etc) help us get first-hand experience to use of advance technology in agricultural production; the 2012 Borlaug World Food Prize was a rare international occasion that you ensured that we attend and it was enriching too. I am sure future fellows will also like it at MU.”

More information about the IAP program can be found here.