Two members of the College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources’ team were honored with MU International Engagement Awards April 26.
Senior information specialist Mike Burden received the staff award, and associate professor of rural sociology Jere Gilles was the scholar recipient.
“These awards are particularly unique, because they recognize the important achievements of our three core communities at MU – our faculty, staff, and students,” said Elizabeth Bissell Miller, International Communications Coordinator. “While many community or international engagement awards primarily focus on the contributions of faculty or staff or students, these awards recognize the inter-connected nature of international engagement at every level of the university.”
Jere Gilles received the award for his leadership in research projects in Latin America, Africa and Asia. Gilles has also dedicated his life to learning French and Spanish to allow him to live in regions of the world that speak those languages.
“Dr. Jere Gilles has spent his career advancing the discipline of rural sociology, a fundamental discipline for a land-grant university,” Miller said. “He has been able to do what many have not: take a fairly localized discipline and find global truths that have allowed him to make notable contributions globally to rural agriculture and development.”
Burden currently develops multimedia content for CAFNR that will help promote research and teaching. He has taught journalism courses at MU and served in the Peace Corps in 2006-2008. Burden also coordinated the Third Goal International Film Festival held this past February.
“International engagement is important because building bridges among cultures helps us understand one another,” Burden said. “A greater understanding can lead to greater peace in the world. As a returning Peace Corps volunteer, one of our goals is to help Americans understand the people and cultures of other countries and promote world peace and friendship. I am always trying to do that.”
“Our staff awardee, Michael Burden, has managed to capture to essence of a critical international message coming from CAFNR,” Miller said. “His job is unique and he does it so well that we are all drawn to the incredible global outreach occurring in CAFNR and have come to know about CAFNR through his engaging writing and communication.”
MU currently enrolls approximately 2,000 international students and 700 international scholars each year. MU sends more students abroad than any other college or university in Missouri. International students contribute more than $50 million to the local economy each year. And, MU is an international leader in many areas such as plant sciences and journalism.
MU aims to be an outstanding global university and the international engagement of its faculty, staff, and students is paramount to keeping MU and MU graduates competitive in the global marketplace, according to Miller.