An International Experiential Learning Program: A Study Abroad Experience in Uganda

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An international experience helps create an awareness of international perspectives and prepares students for a global workforce. Creating an effective study abroad experience requires strong collaboration and active involvement of local and foreign host partner institutions. This paper describes a one month summer study abroad experience in Uganda developed jointly by North Dakota State University (NDSU) and Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda to offer international educational experiences with an emphasis on animal production and health. The elements shared in this paper include: course overview and objectives; course requirements, content and evaluation, management and funding; student participation; the experiential learning experience in Uganda; impact; benefits; challenges; student comments; and future directions in promoting international learning experiences. The course supports NDSU’s mission to “address the needs and aspirations of people in a changing world,” its vision to “be globally identified as a contemporary metropolitan land grant institution” and its core values to “reflect and serve geographically and culturally diverse populations,” “remain committed to serving people globally” and “value collaboration with colleges and universities around the world.” When considering a study abroad experience,students should be encouraged to broaden their choice of place and include non-traditional destinations such as developing countries in Africa.

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... Not only is there an importance of ensuring adequate supplies of food for a growing world population, but there also exists an importance of understanding and assisting with food production systems in developing countries. With increased urbanization, an upsurge in world population, along with lifestyle changes resulting in diverse food preferences, there becomes a necessity to increase animal and crop production, whereby increasing food security (Ekiri et al., 2013;Harrell et al., 2017;Heinert & Roberts, 2016). Zhai and Sheer (2002) noted that as global food needs increase, understanding agriculture in various contexts along with an awareness of international perspectives is imperative to alleviating concerns in regard to adequate food supplies. ...
... In a study by Bruening and Frick (2004), it was noted there is a growing need for more agricultural students to participate in SAP experiences in order to increase their cultural knowledge and global contextual understanding. Additionally, by combining cultural awareness with experiential learning as related to agricultural practices, students have the ability to cultivate and develop higher-order thinking along with problem solving skills (Ekiri et al., 2013). Participants in this study learned how to critically think about situations and make quick decisions (P4, P5). ...
Today’s agricultural industry is charged with feeding a growing population, which means producing larger quantities of food and marketing the food worldwide. Future employers seek graduates that have global perspectives. To mitigate students’ lack of international knowledge, many higher education institutions are providing students an opportunity to participate in study abroad programs. The purpose of this study was to explore how an international experience in South Africa impacted participants’ perceptions of South African culture, global agriculture, and science. Seven reoccurring themes emerged from the data: a) adaptability (pre-experience), b) enhanced communication skills (both pre and post experience), c) an attainment of diverse/broadened academic agricultural knowledge (both pre and post experience), d) risk taking (post-experience), e) intercultural competency and global awareness (both pre and post experience), f) critical thinking skills (post-experience), and g) career enhancement (post-experience). Findings indicate an international experience should integrate cultural learning, academic learning, and should be applied to the participant’s future career. Keywords: international experiences; science literacy; cultural learning; study abroad
... Unfortunately, widespread adoption of experiential learning within colleges of agriculture has not been realized (Estepp and Roberts, 2011;Estepp et al., 2012;Roberts, 2006); however, research does highlight instances in which experiential learning is supporting meaningful and engaged learning environments within colleges of agriculture. Furthermore, research suggests experiential learning has been applied to a wide-range of learning contexts within colleges of agriculture, such as teaching arboretums and demonstration gardens (Hansen, 2012), manure management (Bott and Cortus, 2014), student-managed farms (Perry et al., 2015), community-based leadership experiences (McKim et al., 2015), an internet-based agricultural banking game (Briggeman et al., 2012), pet training workshops (Karr-Lilienthal et al., 2013), industry interactions (Downey, 2012), and international study-abroad opportunities (Ekiri et al., 2013). This range of learning contexts, while only representing a sample of reported applications, illustrates the tremendous potential for experiential learning to enhance student learning and engagement within colleges of agriculture. ...
... Finally, educators must be willing to identify experiential learning opportunities in variable learning contexts, allowing "experiential education [to be] dependent upon each person and each situation" (Arnold et al., 2006, p. 31). For example, educators must be willing to try experiential learning in large lecture classrooms (e.g., Downey, 2012), on computers (e.g., Briggeman et al., 2012;Murphrey, 2010), and across the globe (e.g., Ekiri et al., 2013). Finally, we must consider the future of agriculture, as well as the learners who will enroll in colleges of agriculture, and consider how experiential learning can evolve to address the changing needs (e.g., technology-based education), interests (e.g., international development), values (e.g., sustainability), and goals (e.g., participation in emerging careers) of future professionals in agriculture, food, and natural resources. ...
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Experiential learning, described as learning through participation in experiences, is often cited as a founda-tional tenant of teaching agriculture, food, and natural resources content. In this manuscript, the historical foundations and future potential of experiential learning within colleges of agriculture were explored. The foun-dational origins of experiential learning were analyzed through the works of Dewey, Lewin, Joplin, and Kolb, with specific recommendations for applying experien-tial learning within the context of postsecondary education. Additionally, current applications of experiential learning within colleges of agriculture were investigated, highlighting specific hurdles to widespread adoption of experiential learning. In the final section, the future of experiential learning within colleges of agriculture was considered. First, authors considered the need to educate individuals prepared to identify and implement sustainable solutions to ecological challenges as a motivation to broadly apply experiential learning. Additionally , authors described an innovative extension to expe-riential learning, called interdisciplinary experiential learning, as a mechanism to address the growing need for interdisciplinarity within colleges of agriculture.
... This layered model would train and produce agricultural leaders who are equipped with both a deep technical knowledge and skill base and the capacity to act as entrepreneurial change agents ( Figure 1). Experiential learning is a pedagogical approach that is commonly observed in both agricultural leadership education (Downey, 2012;Ekiri et al., 2013;Roberts, 2006Roberts, , 2013 and entrepreneurship education (Corbett, 2005;Pittaway and Cope, 2007). Experiential learning provides students with opportunities to apply the lessons learned through traditional classroom settings to professional and community environments (Kolb, 1984). ...
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The potential value of formally integrating entrepreneurial principles and practices into agricultural leadership programs at the collegiate level is conceptually explored. The compatibility of agricultural leadership and entrepreneurship education is demonstrated through the identification of shared learning objectives and a common reliance on experiential learning models. Furthermore, the observations and arguments made throughout the paper are consistently aligned with the agricultural leadership and general leadership education literatures. An interdisciplinary collegiate entrepreneurship education program that is designed to provide students with an enhanced capacity to act as change agents illustrates the relevancy and applicability of entrepreneurship to agricultural leadership. This experiential-based program is fully outlined to provide agricultural leadership instructors with a model for integrating entrepreneurial principles and practices into existing curricula.
The impact of global citizenship is far-reaching and encompasses skills and outcomes beyond simple economic and business success. Enhancing all students’ knowledge and ability to navigate a global community is not just of interest to governmental units, policymakers, and global organizations, but also to universities who wish to adhere to accreditation standards. The purpose of this phenomenological study is to identify characteristics related to an individuals’ motivation to complete a short-term study abroad (one to three weeks in duration) and the impact that experience had on their personal and leadership growth. Eighteen self-identified leaders enrolled in a college degree or certification program from across the United States agreed to participate in this qualitative study, sharing experiences on overcoming short-term study abroad barriers, as well as the personal and leadership growth attained from completing the short-term study abroad program. Overall, findings indicated that regardless of a participants age, degree/certification, geographical location or level of past or current leadership, by overcoming potential barriers connected to a short-term study abroad experience, the first-hand knowledge attained from his or her participation provided value and benefits personally, as well as informing and influencing his or her current leadership as well as the impact toward future leadership. Specifically, participants shared their personal growth, which included an increase in self-efficacy, knowledge and appreciation for other people and cultures, being more mindful and open-minded, and greater cultural awareness attained through first-hand experiences that mitigated stereotypes and preconceived biases. Leadership was informed and influenced by the increase of knowledge and awareness of being inclusive, open-minded to global perspectives and differing viewpoints, as well as building teams, empowering others, and sharing leadership. This paper contributes to an existing body of knowledge concerning barriers of participating in short-term study abroad experiences, but by being motivated to overcome those barriers, personal growth occurred. This study provides new knowledge regarding the impact short-term study abroad has on influencing and informing leadership, a topic underrepresented current literature. The impact this study will have is value for all stakeholders working in a global context. Advisor: Nathan W. Conner
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