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Searca food, climate degrees set

LOS BAÑOS, Laguna—The Philippine-hosted Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture or Searca said a graduate course focusing on food security and climate change is underway under the Southeast Asian universities consortium.

Searca Director Dr. Gil C. Saguiguit Jr. said 16 partners attended a workshop at Kasetsart University in Bangkok from February 14 to 16 to develop a quality plan and finalize the training tracks for the new Master of Science in Food Security and Climate Change degree.

“Climate change is a global issue that exacerbates existing threats to food security and livelihoods. As Southeast Asia remains dependent on the climate-sensitive sectors of agriculture and forestry, it is now in an even more vulnerable position,” Saguiguit said.

The project, which is under the Searca-initiated Southeast Asian University Consortium for Graduate Education in Agriculture and Natural Resources, is expected to push for internationalization of higher education institutions in the region. 

Since interdisciplinary skills are needed to address food security and climate change, Saguiguit said the key pillars of the new curriculum will be natural sciences, agricultural and engineering techniques, and social and political disciplines.

“In particular, we need to produce graduates who can very well fit the professional profile needed by various institutions in order to strategically respond to the two-fold concern on climate change and food security,” Saguiguit said.

Searca said as the atmosphere does not have borders, climate change adaptation and mitigation solutions require international solutions.

“Graduates of the new course will thus be prepared to act in different cultural, social, and institutional environments across countries and regions by internationalizing their studies through mobility,” Saguiguit said.

The graduate students will earn two degrees from two universities spending at least a month at a second university, and take a summer course, possibly at a third university.

The Bangkok workshop also tackled the rules of the Educational, Audiovisual and Culture Executive Agency of the UC in relation to the grant and its implementation.

Saguiguit said the partners discussed the target dates for the final training tracks and the conduct of the summer course at Gadjah Mada University in Indonesia, which will be organized by GMU and University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences in Vienna in July 2017.

Searca public relations specialist Leah Lyn Domingo said the call for applications for the program will open in March 2017.

Domingo said the program is funded by the ERASMUS Capacity Building in Higher Education program of the European Commission with Dr. Poonpipope Kasemsap of KU as head of the project.

Partners include the Agricultural, Veterinary and Forestry Institute of France and AGRINATURA, the European Alliance on Agricultural Knowledge for Development.

Dr. Didier Pillot of Montpellier SupAgro and Vice President of AGRINATURA was instrumental in the project development and its implementation with SEARCA and KU in the lead.

Other partners include five UC members, namely: KU, University of the Philippines Los Baños, Universiti Putra Malaysia, MGU and Institut Pertanian Bogor in Indonesia.

Other Southeast Asian partners are Royal University of Agriculture and University of Battambang in Cambodia, Nilai University in Malaysia, Central Luzon State University in the Philippines, and Prince Songkla University and Chiang Mai University in Thailand.

European partners include Georg-August-University of Göttingen in Germany, Montpellier SupAgro in France and BOKU.

Topics: Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture , Searca , food security , climate change
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