Globally engaging American agriculture and natural resource students through service learning study abroad

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Journal of Developments in Sustainable Agriculture





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Multi-national scientific collaboration to address future biodiversity, food security, and climate change issues will require cultural intelligence and global navigation skills by future U.S. agricultural and natural resource (Ag-NR) scientists. However, undergraduate study abroad opportunities are largely absent for U.S. Ag-NR students, particularly in developing countries. In parallel, universities in non Anglophone countries, many in Asia, are seeking to building scientific capacity through graduate study abroad at institutions in the U.S. and publishing in the Englis-language international scientific literature. However, English speaking and listening skills of many such students are limited, a hinder to passing English proficiency exams required for study abroad and for improved scientific writing. We have developed the Service Learning-Undergraduate Study Abroad (SL-USA) to provide low cost study abroad opportunities for Ag-NR undergraduate students teaching English speaking and listening skills to graduate students and early career lecturers at partner institutions in Thailand and China. In exchange, the SL-USA students receive housing, field trips, and an immersive study abroad experience that builds cultural intelligence that is the basis for global navigation skills. To date, 14 SL-USA students from Utah State University have taught students at Kasetsart University in Thailand and Northwest Agriculture and Forestry University in China, improving English speaking and listening skills measured quantitatively and through self assessment of the Thai and Chinese students. The SL-USA students have benefitted from the study abroad experience, particularly in learning the parallels between cultural intelligence and the scientific method.

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