SUMMARY: EARTH Univ. to develop an Educating Entrepreneurs Tool-Kit for African faculties of agriculture committed to transforming undergraduate curricula. The tool kit will enhance the capacity of universities to provide entrepreneurial leadership needed to make African agriculture economically competitive, socially responsible & environmentally sustainable in an increasingly globalized world economy.
PROBLEM SPACE: The challenges facing Africa today are enormous, and require collective, strategic collaboration to overcome. Across the continent it is universally recognized that it is imperative to harness the power and potential of smallholder farmers to contribute to the economic development and alleviation of poverty in their countries.
SOLUTION: EARTH University’s collaboration with African institutions began as a result of the Sustainability, Education and the Management of Change in the Tropics (SEMCIT) international seminar series, co-convened from 1999-2003 by EARTH and the Salzburg Seminar in collaboration with the Norwegian University of Life Sciences. SEMCIT focused on the problems of sustainable development and the vital role that higher agricultural education must play in addressing these challenges. The project was supported by the government of Norway and the W. K. Kellogg Foundation and reflected their strong belief in the EARTH educational model and the potential it represents for promoting development in other regions in the world.
SEMCIT was a unique and far-reaching process in which 360 stakeholders (including academics, NGOs, representatives of government, donors, the private sector, farmers, and students), from 198 different institutions and 73 countries were the protagonists. Participants reached a broad consensus on the urgent need for transformation in tertiary agricultural education systems worldwide. Among other things, participants concluded that graduates must be more entrepreneurial and able to create jobs, rather than simply seek jobs. They voiced great frustration at the inability of their educational programs to produce this result.
Although SEMCIT concluded in 2008, there have been many subsequent exchanges and visits of faculty between African universities and EARTH, as well as many requests for EARTH to participate in international forums discussing the potential of the EARTH learning model to promote transformation in African institutions. EARTH has received repeated requests from African institutions for materials and a methodology that would enable them to initiate a curriculum review process and work toward implementing an undergraduate entrepreneurial education program based on EARTH’s model and principles of experiential learning. The Educating Entrepreneurs Tool-Kit will provide African educators with this possibility.