Human Capacity Development: The Road to Global Competitiveness and Leadership in Food, Agriculture, Natural Resources, and Related Sciences FANRRSReport as inadecuate

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Several years ago a senior APS colleague challenged the leaders of academic programs to critically think about a preferred future for ensuring that there is not only the capability, but also the willingness to recognize and reform and/or reframe higher education programs within FANRRS to meet the challenges of preparing society ready graduates and proactively act upon it (Newcomb, 2004). To this challenge has now been added the voice of the National Academy of Sciences with specific recommendations and a call for change that engages many stakeholders in the discourse. This paper provides a roadmap with a clear and purposeful approach to a preferred future. It is now incumbent upon all for whom the transformation of higher education in FANRRS is critical to meaningfully engage in those processes. If America is to maintain its competitive advantage, it must invest in human capacity development. The United States has enjoyed immense scientific and technological success in the past. However, warning signs have emerged that indicate a greater need for development of human capacity if our country's leadership role is to be maintained. The following six conclusions are relevant: (1) Globalization is impacting the future workforce in food, agriculture, natural resources and related areas. Students will need to develop a portfolio of skills in collaborative and interdisciplinary approaches, and be able to comprehend increasingly complex systems models across scales with global effects. To keep its competitive edge, the United States must increase investments in human capacity development; (2) U.S. leadership in science, mathematics, engineering and technology is slipping. Engagement of institutions of higher education, agribusiness, and public-funded agencies is needed to define and create initiatives in problem-based learning; (3) The rate of investment in human capacity development in FANRRS has lagged behind investment in the creation of new knowledge, resulting in an increasing gap between discovery and implementation; (4) Educational programs are seeking to be more relevant than ever, but the increasing separation between discovery and the classroom has left curricular development behind where it needs to be; (5) Demographically, there is a disproportionately low participation by certain groups in FANRRS at all levels, including workforce, management, professional, and executive levels--especially scientists, extension staff, and educators. This has resulted in programs that are not as robust and relevant as they must be to have broad implementation and impact; and (6) Fewer students are pursuing agriculturally related sciences in higher education than required to meet future needs--especially to provide worldwide leadership. Several recommendations are presented herein. (Contains a bibliography.)

Descriptors: Food, Agriculture, Natural Resources, Global Approach, Competition, Leadership, Educational Change, Labor Force Development, College Programs, Undergraduate Study, Student Research, Service Learning, Extension Education, Doctoral Programs, Graduate Study, Distance Education, Technology Integration, Science Education, Mathematics Education, Technology Education, Engineering Education, Land Grant Universities, Public Colleges

Association of Public and Land-grant Universities. 1307 New York Avenue NW Suite 400, Washington, DC 20005-4722. Tel: 202-478-6040; Fax: 202-478-6046; Web site:

Author: Association of Public and Land-grant Universities



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