Expanded study-abroad opportunities: CALS partners with U.K.’s Harper Adams University

The ink is barely dry on a new agreement between N.C. State and Harper Adams University, located in Shropshire, England, but anticipation is high for the possibilities this partnership may create for faculty and students from both institutions.

“The College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at N.C. State and Harper Adams offer complementary academic programs in agriculture, agribusiness, agricultural engineering and food studies at the undergraduate and graduate levels,” said Dr. Barbara Kirby, associate vice provost of academic programs and services at N.C. State. “The Harper Adams campus is very welcoming, especially for students and faculty members who are passionate about agriculture and the related areas.”

The agreement opens doors for expanded study-abroad opportunities for students, as well as the possibility of summer internships both on and off campus. It also will allow the College’s faculty to study and conduct agricultural research in the United Kingdom, as well as collaborate with Harper Adams faculty on grant requests and other projects.

“This is the first step of several in creating strong and lasting linkages between N.C. State and Harper Adams,” said Melissa Hendrickson, a lecturer in the CALS Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics. “Students and faculty are enthusiastic about the study-abroad program, the learning opportunities at Harper Adams and the possibility of future work together.”

The partnership stemmed from a short-term study-abroad program in the U.K. that Hendrickson started five years ago. While there, she discovered Harper Adams University and arranged a visit. From that point forward, Hendrickson spearheaded the effort to establish a formal agreement between N.C. State and Harper Adams.

In March, her dream became reality with the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MOU) between the two schools.

Harper Adams faculty and students attend a crops lecture in a Shropshire field.
Harper Adams faculty and students attend a crops lecture in a Shropshire field.

“The MOU provides the potential to expand beyond the short-term study-abroad agribusiness program to Harper Adams,” Kirby said. “In the future, I hope to see Harper Adams’ students coming to N.C. State as part of an academic exchange program, internship or research experience. Our students will have the opportunity for a more in-depth study-abroad program where they may complete upper division courses or training in agriculture, agribusiness, engineering and food science.”

In addition to benefiting students and faculty, the exchange program may eventually expand to include agricultural industry and commodity leaders.
Plans are in the works for Dr. Karl Jicha, a lecturer with the Agricultural Institute, and Dr. Elizabeth Wilson, director of the Agricultural Institute and assistant dean of academic programs, to lead a study-abroad group to the U.K. in spring 2015.

“Many colleges are strongly encouraging or requiring students to participate in some form of international activity as part of their coursework,” Hendrickson said. “One of the five core strategic themes of the College is to prepare students and stakeholders for leadership and success in the global workforce. But most students don’t feel they can take an entire semester or a full year of study overseas.”

For that reason, Hendrickson has created short-course opportunities for students to learn firsthand about agriculture and agribusiness in other countries. While longer programs allow for more immersion in the culture, short programs have the potential of providing students with equally eye-opening experiences.

“Students with international experience provide a better quality of life for themselves, their neighbors and their community organizations by bringing new perspectives to the table,” Hendrickson said. “Without MOUs with agricultural universities, such as the one we just signed with Harper Adams, these experiences would not be sustainable.”

Representing Harper Adams University at the signing were Dr. David Llewellyn, vice chancellor, and Andrew Jones, director of teaching and learning.

– Suzanne Stanard

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