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Iowa State Graduates First Class of Global Resource Systems Students
May 1st, 2012
AMES, Iowa – Students in Iowa State University’s Global Resource Systems program have provided input at United Nations conferences, given aid to refugees in Iowa and studied around the world with one objective – becoming globally engaged leaders and citizens.
On May 5, graduates with the degree will walk across the stage and into a world of challenges. Sam Bird is one of the first graduates to obtain a degree in the major, which was first offered to students in the fall of 2009. He decided to attend Iowa State because of the program.
Bird, who grew up in Ames, said he was originally headed to San Francisco to attend college. That changed when David Acker, Iowa State College of Agriculture and Life Sciences associate dean of academic and global programs, contacted him and explained the global resource systems major at Iowa State.
The program allows students to choose an international region as their focus of study. Before graduating students learn the language and understand the resource issues in the specific region.
Gail Nonnecke, a university professor in horticulture and faculty coordinator of the Global Resource Systems program, said the major attracts students who are interested in addressing global issues in both developing and developed nations.
“This program provides a chance to develop a deep understanding of another culture through internships and coursework,” Nonnecke said. “It’s also a wonderful opportunity for Iowa businesses that want graduates who can speak the language and understand resource issues, the culture and agriculture of a specific region of the world.”
Bird was one of the first students to sign up for the major. He also was one of the first student peer mentors in the learning community. He says it’s amazing what he’s learned from other students.
“They go to Thailand, Morocco, India, China, all over the world,” Bird said. “It’s what my classmates do every summer.”
Bird focused on Uganda where he completed a value chain analysis for corn markets in eastern Uganda – information that will help small landholder farmers. The message Bird shares with his peers, international students and even United Nations leaders, is that we all have to work together to make the world sustainable.
Bird participated in the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development from 2009 through 2011, and was selected as a Udall Scholar. He plans to attend graduate school in agricultural and resource economics to study international development.
“I’ve always believed that students need to have a global perspective, but I never guessed how much I personally would learn by working with these students,” Nonnecke said. “We have students who do amazing things. This summer six students are attending the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development in Brazil and more than 20 are completing internships in Africa, Asia, Europe, Central America, South America and North America. “
The program has 85 students enrolled. Nonnecke said these are the future global leaders in business, government and nongovernmental organizations.
“These students will think systemically about solving complex problems involving global resources,” Nonnecke said. “They have a bright future and will contribute to understanding how to sustain food and agriculture resources for the nine billion people estimated to populate the earth in 2050.”