Transformational Leadership Project: Scholarships and Partnerships
April 2015 marked the official launch of a partnership between the University of Minnesota and the Faculty of Agriculture at the University of Prishtina. This partnership was formed under the US Agency for International Development’s ‘Transformational Leadership Project: Scholarships and Partnerships’ being implemented by World Learning.
The University of Minnesota (UMN) - represented by Drs. Mac Farnham and Aimee Hunt from the College of Veterinary Medicine’s Center for Animal Health and Food Safety - is partnering with the University of Prishtina, Faculty of Agriculture (UP FA) to conduct a series of workshops and short courses in Kosovo, along with hosting teaching faculty from UP FA at UMN for semester-long 'faculty development fellowships'. These activities intend to strengthen the skills and competencies of UP FA graduates entering a dynamic and emerging agricultural workforce important to Kosovo’s developing economy. Minnesota is one of four US universities pairing with different UP faculties for the partnership portion of the project; UMN with Agriculture, Indiana University with Education, Dartmouth with Economics, and Arizona State with Engineering. The formal launch event was hosted by the UP Rector with delegates including the Kosovo Minister of Education, the US Ambassador, USAID mission director, and World Learning.
Following the formal launch, the UMN delegation worked with the Dean and core team from the UP FA to develop a partnership plan and activities around key interest areas of veterinary medicine, food technology and plant protection. To encourage input from public and private sector stakeholders, the combined team made introductory visits to the Kosovo Ministry of Agriculture, national Agency for Food and Veterinary, and several food producers and processors. Private sector visits included a dairy farm, two dairy processors, a poultry processing facility, winery, and a fruit juice bottling operation.
Recurrent themes throughout visits were; 1) the importance of Kosovo’s agricultural sector to their developing economy, and 2) need to develop more practical skills and hands-on experience to strengthen this emerging workforce.
Establishment of relationships between academic, public and private sectors is a highlight success and important step towards understanding the most critical skills and competencies graduates need to contribute to Kosovo’s emerging agricultural workforce.
Next steps include further public, private and academic sector stakeholder engagement, and training on experiential teaching and learning methods - empowering teaching faculty, students and graduates to put knowledge and theory into practice.
Story and images contributed by Dr. Mac Farnham