Officials from the Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln recently returned from a trip to China, where they continued work creating a niche for the university and the state of Nebraska in a country fast becoming one of the world’s economic superpowers.
UNL Vice Chancellor Ronnie Green led the group of IANR officials that included Mark Doyle, IANR director of international programs, and Rolando Flores, head of the Department of Food Science & Technology.
Green, who made his third trip to China in 18 months, said the team of officials had several focuses while visiting the country. Those focuses included strengthening relationships with several Chinese institutions and working on UNL’s effort to increase engagement in three countries: China, India and Brazil.
“We have made the strategic decision to rapidly grow our efforts in these three key countries,” Green said in a press release. “When one considers the challenges ahead over the next four decades with global food and natural resource security, these three countries are at the center of addressing these issues.”
UNL’s efforts to increase engagement in China specifically, Green said, have put the university in good standing in that country.
“These collective efforts have placed us into a real leadership position in agriculture and natural resources collaborations in China moving forward,” he said.
During the visit, IANR officials worked on furthering UNL’s relationship with China’s Northwest Agriculture and Forestry University in Yangling, Shaanxi Province. It’s considered one of China’s leading agriculture and natural resources universities. UNL and NWAFU began a research undergraduate experience program last summer, according to the press release.
The team also made new joint research partnerships with the China Agricultural University in Beijing to advance food science and food engineering research. Doyle said China’s quickly growing research industry makes it important to stay involved with the country.
“China is in a period of unprecedented growth and development,” Doyle said. “They’re building research facilities and research capacity at a record pace. It is important that we stay engaged or we may fall behind.”
But there are still opportunities, especially in the research fields of food and water, for IANR students, faculty and staff to help fulfill China’s research needs, the press release said.
China currently sends more students to U.S. universities than any other country, according to the press release. At UNL, 36 percent of the university’s 3,475 international students come from China, making it the No. 1 country of origin for international students. Doyle said increasing engagement between UNL and Chinese universities will create more opportunities for U.S. students.
“We really owe it to our students to give them opportunities in China, to learn the language, the culture,” Doyle said in the press release. “More and more employers are seeking people with experience in countries such as China, so such opportunities will open new doors for our students.”