“The boundaries of the university are the boundaries of the state,” proclaims the Wisconsin Idea. But that concept has expanded. The boundaries of the university are the boundaries of the world—and no institution demonstrates that more clearly than CALS.
Nearly all CALS faculty engage in international work of some kind, and collectively they cover every continent. There are many reasons why “global” is built into CALS. The College’s expertise in areas vital to human needs—food and agriculture, health, environment and energy—make CALS the go-to place for countries seeking development assistance.
While the humanitarian impulse is strong, there are many other incentives for international engagement. Providing help abroad also means developing new markets for Wisconsin products—increasingly important in a global economy. Research needs call CALS scientists out into the world for access to diverse breeds and growing conditions to advance their work. Students from abroad study here to gain job skills needed in their countries, and CALS graduates often find employment abroad or volunteer for Peace Corps. These experiences create international professional and personal connections that deepen and multiply over a lifetime.
In this edition of Grow we are pleased to offer a few snapshots of that work. Our cover story highlights an undergraduate course in global health that morphed into a student-run nonprofit serving rural Ugandans. We’ll learn about a seed potato project in the Middle East that unifies scientists from hostile nations and a dairy assistance program in war-ravaged Kosovo that was prompted by a concerned Madison businessman. We’ll learn how one course forges relations with Mexican dairy farmers and how an exchange program expands our research ties with India.
While these stories show a range of experience, they are only a selection. For a more complete picture, please visit an online map we are developing that allows everyone engaged in international work with CALS to share their stories. Experience the start of a work in permanent progress at dev.cals.wisc.edu/global/.
A fair question to ask about international work—and, indeed, about any endeavor conducted by a public institution—is “What’s in it for us?” Does international engagement make Wisconsin stronger? These stories, we believe, illuminate how working globally deepens our understanding of human experience and our sense of being both citizens and fellow stewards of the world. We may go abroad to make the world a better place—but it seems that we become a better place because of the world.