sealPurdue News

June 2001

Educators worldwide to address food,
environmental issues

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Feeding the world while sustaining the environment will be high on the agenda when more than 200 educators from universities around the world meet in San Francisco this summer.

A key issue at the July 12-14 Global Consortium of Higher Education and Research for Agriculture conference will be how university leaders will guide their institutions to better serve local food and environmental needs.

The importance placed on environmental and food production issues depends on the food supply circumstances researchers and educators face in their home countries, says Martin C. Jischke, president of Purdue University and the consortium.

"Researchers in countries where food supplies are abundant and relatively inexpensive will likely focus on environmental issues as they relate to food production," Jischke says. "But researchers in countries struggling to feed their populations may have a separate agenda as they seek ways to develop a secure food supply.

"The conference will recognize different agricultural needs around the world. Then, we will search for ways that new science, changing global food systems and the university curriculum can find solutions for worldwide, environmentally sustainable food production."

Most people attending the meeting will be research or academic directors, deans, or university presidents. University administrators from Kenya, India, New Zealand, Taiwan, Ukraine and the United States will talk about issues ranging from biotechnology to the changing nature of food systems. In addition, participants will initiate groups to work toward long-term benefits that will address issues in global food production, agricultural education, major research needs and institutional outreach programs.

"We are doing everything we can to make sure there is a balanced representation from universities around the world so we can discuss global agricultural issues from multiple perspectives," says David Sammons, director of International Programs in Agriculture at Purdue.

"The workgroups formed during the meeting will be vital for finding ways to share ideas and knowledge across the planet," he says. "These workgroups will continue after the summer conference and help pave the way for strengthened global partnerships for agricultural education and research."

The goal of conference organizers is to find ways to align agricultural research and education to better address global food production at the local level.

"Our future graduates and researchers must be globally aware, but also equipped to find solutions relevant to local needs," Sammons says.

In addition to food security and environmental issues, the conference participants will look at specific topics such as biotechnology, changes in farming systems and the future of agricultural higher education and research.

"We are delighted that California will be the host site for this important exchange," says W.R. Gomes, University of California vice president, Agriculture and Natural Resources. "California is greatly involved with agriculture in many parts of the world, so we look forward to the developments that transpire as a result of this conference."

The consortium was established in 1998 to foster cooperation and improvement of agricultural higher education and research institutions. During its July 1999 inaugural conference in Amsterdam, the group focused on leadership of higher education in agriculture. The consortium includes more than 260 universities in 134 countries.

For more information visit the consortium's Web site.

Sources: Martin C. Jischke, (765) 494-9708

David Sammons, (765) 494-6876

W. R. Gomes, (510) 987-0043

Contacts: Steve Cain, Purdue Agricultural Communications, (765) 494-8418; Pamela Kan-Rice, University of California Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources, (510) 987-0043

Purdue Ag Communications: (765) 494-2722; Beth Forbes, Ag News Coordinator,;

Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096;

* To the Purdue News and Photos Page