Research on a Global Level - CALS Connections

The Dean’s Global Food and Agriculture Leadership Program is unique to Iowa State University. Last semester, seven students traveled to Rome to conduct literature reviews and develop educational tools for the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (UNFAO). With knowledge gained both from the production and policy sides of agriculture, students enhanced their own thinking to evaluate complex issues in the context of the Mediterranean diet model.

“The small program size allows for students to build a professional relationship with the faculty in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and work towards future professional career goals,” recalls Aubree Beenken, who participated in the program this past summer. “While the projects were challenging, we all learned so much about working as a team and the challenges the UNFAO faces across the globe today.”

The students were split into two teams working on separate projects. One group focused on food waste education for Italian students, and the other group compared pollinator health and populations among different agricultural production models. Each team was asked by the UNFAO to complete a comprehensive literature review and develop an educational tool based on their findings.

Work on their projects began during the spring semester. While in Rome, the students worked directly with professionals at the UNFAO spending 20 to 30 hours per week on their projects. The combined coursework that occurs on campus in the spring and on-site work with professional teams in Rome allowed students first-hand research and exploration into real-world issues for global food and agriculture.

“This program was very eye-opening,” says Kacy Sampson, one of the participants. “We were exposed to some very pressing issues. The whole experience enhanced my global perspective.”

“I learned about aspects of agriculture I never knew about before,” explains Claire Okoren, another student in the program. “It helped me strengthen my research skills, writing techniques, and my ability to communicate well with others. Not to mention getting to learn all these things while living in the heart of Rome!”

The program looks for a diverse group of students, sophomore level or above, with a CALS major in good academic standing. Participants are best suited if they possess a willingness and interest in experiential learning and agriculture, natural resources, and food. If interested, contact Shelley Taylor at or visit 0018 Curtiss Hall to discover more.

Original article, written by Macy Evans, CALS Connections Fall 2018

Dean’s Global Food and Agriculture Leadership Program Application Deadline - December 1, 2018