Academic journal article NACTA Journal

Case Study of Experiential Learning through a Training Model at the Science and Policy Interface: The National Animal Health Policy and Food Security Course

Academic journal article NACTA Journal

Case Study of Experiential Learning through a Training Model at the Science and Policy Interface: The National Animal Health Policy and Food Security Course

Article excerpt

Abstract

Experiential learning provides an opportunity for students to bridge classroom and research knowledge and experiences with the realities of creating solutions for difficult policy issues. Experiential learning becomes even more powerful for capacity building when it involves cultural and geographic diversity and multiple public and private institutions. Our next generation of leaders will need these bridging experiences to address and solve global challenges like climate change, food security and transboundary diseases. These challenges cannot effectively be solved by individual countries or institutions and require creating new frameworks and partnerships that are transdisciplinary and global. The objectives of this paper were 1) to describe an experiential learning experience through the National Animal Health and Food Security Policy course conducted in Washington DC and 2) discuss ways the curriculum of this multi-institutional course could be internationalized and adopted globally. The paper discusses possible ways of internationalizing this course including: formation of partnerships with institutions that are already involved in multi-institutional global courses; involvement of international agencies whose missions align with the national health and food security policy course; and signing memoranda of understanding among governments to use this course for capacity building for their public servants.

Key words: Animal production, animal health, food security, science, policy, global higher education

Introduction

Experiential learning involves a number of approaches and practices but in all instances focus on the things the learner brings to the experience as well as what they gain from the experience (Stanton and Grant, 2002). Experiential learning provides an opportunity for students to gain tangible experience while still enrolled at their schools or universities; it combines classroom knowledge with real world experience (Brandéis University, 2013). Experiential learning provides a practical approach to learning (Stanton and Grant, 2002), and has been reported to be an effective way for students to share their experiences with others (Brandéis University, 2013). Through this mode of training, students acquire confidence to apply the knowledge they have attained (Brandéis University, 2013). Additionally, experiential learning is an opportunity for students to convert their class work into life experiences (Brandéis University, 2013) as it enables students to network with several professionals in their field of study (UNESCO, 2012), and offers an opportunity to obtain career related experiences (UNESCO, 2012). According to Stanton and Grant (2002), experiential learning can be implemented through: planning for the experience, increasing the participant's awareness of the experience, assisting the learner to reflect upon the experience and providing experiences to the participants.

A multi-institutional approach of offering jointly planned and implemented courses comes with many advantages but importantly the formation of partnerships and collaborations. Currently, funding organizations are encouraging institutions to follow that approach (Golsmith and Manly, 2003) by preferentially awarding funds to support research and education initiatives. One of the perceived advantages of multi-institutional partnerships, particularly those with globally diverse partners, is enhancing capacity of our next generation of scientists and leaders to address issues that have global contexts (Golsmith and Manly, 2003). It also enhances the quality of the outcomes from projects being run by these institutions (Golsmith and Manly, 2003) as different institutions have different capacities and specialties. Therefore, this pedagogical method provides a platform for different institutions to tap into each other's resources thereby improving efficiency (Anderson et al., 2008). Additionally, this approach enables students to easily tap into new available career opportunities (Anderson et al. …

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