IARD 6020-2014: A touchstone for field-based learning

IARD 6020, an undergraduate program of Cornell University was concluded successfully, as participants from College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS), Cornell University and several Indian agriculture universities received not just in-depth knowledge, but also gained a first hand and direct experience with field visits to various research institutes, NGOs, agricultural universities as well as an opportunity to attend lectures on rural development shared by experienced speakers. The two week long field trip which commenced from 4 January to 18 January, 2014 covered several important research institutes and NGOs in Kerala, Hyderabad and Bangalore giving the participants a unique learning experience. After the completion of field trip, students will submit a project report on the knowledge they have gained at their respective universities.

India-based consulting firm, Sathguru Management Consultants Pvt Ltd, Hyderabad in partnership with CALS organized and coordinated the field trip. Ever since 2003, when India became the chosen location for the field study component, Sathguru has played a pivotal role in not just coordinating the event but in also involving various Indian agricultural universities to benefit from this intellectually reinforcing program. The unique initiative thus became a platform for Indian students of agriculture and related sciences learn from an international faculty and also share their knowledge with their peers from other nations.

As an innovative experiential learning graduate level course delivered by the CALS at Cornell University, IARD 6020 is primarily designed to expose graduate students to agricultural and rural infrastructure building practices in emerging economies. The program offers opportunities for enhanced learning and global peer interaction with Indian and US students and faculty as well as help faculty develop new learning modules for effective experiential learning in three thematic areas- Agricultural Systems (AS), Rural Infrastructure (RI) and Value Addition (VA). The IARD 6020 thus enables students from different nations to undergo a series of lectures in agriculture and related topics combined with other learning modules. Indian students benefit from the mutual international exposure and close group interaction. Students are exposed to different cultural, educational and social practices that augment their learning and stimulate their performance. Enhanced opportunities are created for interactions among the students and faculty at educational, cultural, social, and even personal levels. Multilayered evaluation and several group presentations assist the students in learning new methods and approaches to problem solving.