The First Global Conference, held in 1999, in Amsterdam, The Netherlands.
On July 22-24, 1999 , the then Global Consortium of Agricultural Universities held its first global conference in Amsterdam. The theme selected for the conference was Leadership for Higher Education in Agriculture . The conference was attended by senior leaders from agricultural universities and affiliated organizations around the world. In total, 130 individuals participated, from 32 different countries.
The conference spawned many connections between individuals and among institutions. It also yielded nine working groups on topics such as a global student loan program, curriculum reform, distance education, leadership development, and globalization of teaching. Two important meetings were held in conjunction with the conference. The first was a meeting of the Founding and Organizing Committees of the Consortium. This body reviewed the progress fo the Consortium during its first year of operation, voted to change the name to the Global Consortium of Higher Education and Research for Agriculture (GCHERA), and voted to elect an Executive Committee to replace the original two committees. The second meeting was a meeting of the leadership teams of the US based Board on Agriculture of the National Association of State Universities and Land Grant Colleges (NASULGC) and the European Inter-University Conference of Agriculture and Related Universities (ICA).
Observations from the conference included the following.
- Trends that surfaced at the conference are global. There are variations specific to local conditions but the challenges confronting agricultural universities are surprisingly similar whether the institutions is located in a developed or developing economy.
- Reform in higher education must accompany societal reform. The global shift toward market-driven economics has enormous implications for higher education throughout the world.
- Major reform efforts in higher education for agriculture depend upon a number of mutually reinforcing factors, including external support, funding, leadership, and perhaps most importantly, the cross-fertilization of ideas.
- The success of a university depends on its ability to stay in touch with the world outside of its gates.
- Each nation is concerned with globalizing its academic and research programs, which require strategic alliances and investment of resources.
- Although additional resources are needed to make widespread changes, it is clear that some action can proceed without massive funding, drawing upon the benefits of cooperation across political borders.
- The stakes are high. Food security and environmental sustainability are critical problems and we will need the best minds working together to solve them. The challenge for agricultural universities is to attract the most talented students to work on these critical problems.
To download the proceedings, please click here.