Living on foreign lands, working in underdeveloped cities and rural villages, lending a hand through knowledge they’ve gained; Professors from Cal Poly and four other California State Universities will step out of their university classrooms and pool their resources to aid agricultural in developing nations.
In recent months, Cal Poly, Chico, Fresno, Humboldt and Pomona CSU campuses formed the Consortium for International Development (CID) in which members seek to allocate their skills to different parts of the world by contracting with governmental and non-governmental aid programs in order to meet set objectives through those organizations.
“We represent a core of expertise that is now available as a resource to high-priority initiatives currently underway across the globe,” said Cal Poly food science and nutrition professor Hany Khalil, who is also the director of the CID.
The consortium will not only serve as a channel of professional development for educators involved, but will also be valuable for the students, Khalil said. Specifically, it will give students exclusive opportunities to learn from professors who have been overseas, who have seen the problems firsthand, taken the time help, and in turn, brought new perspectives back into the classroom.
“We have to think outside our own boundaries,” he said.
The CID submitted a proposal to its first organizational candidate in which to contract its expertise through the Millennium Challenge Corporation. This agency is government-funded and maintains the sentiment to help reduce poverty and promote economic growth in Africa, Eurasia and South America.
Steve Gulley, a food science senior and one of Khalil’s students said that the CID is something he would like to see many students get involved in, a goal Khalil said the consortium members anticipate for the future.
“After living in Barcelona, I realized that Americans are very closed off to the rest of the world,” Gulley said. “Almost like living in a box.”
Gulley said the consortium could expand students’ horizons for creativity and knowledge.
“Participation would open doors to students who never knew were there, even to countries they never knew existed,” Gulley said.
He also said that Khalil is a perfect fit to head the consortium and aid other nations because of his experience, energy and desire to help.
“He is a great asset to the rest of the world,” he said. “I do not think there is another professor at Cal Poly with the potential to take the CID to the heights that Dr. Khalil will.”
As a whole, the consortium’s qualifications within the five core campuses are not strictly limited to agricultural know-how.
“We have professors who have researched finance and could help with budgets, or professors who study engineering and can build roads,” he said. “The faculty at our combined campuses have expertise in virtually all areas.”
Khalil has independently volunteered with several organizations in a multitude of countries prior to developing the CID. Eric Wallace, program coordinator for Citizens Network for Foreign Affairs (CNFA), a non-partisan, not-for-profit organization, said Khalil’s expertise was a good match for what was needed for the success of the program – living onsite and working with a small cannery that makes canned chicken and canned mushrooms in Ukraine.
“His skills in food processing were needed for this assignment,” Wallace said. “They needed basic information on how to improve their production and Dr. Khalil had extensive international experience that made him a good candidate for this volunteer position.”
Improving the economic efficiency and sustainability of international development initiatives, improving public safety and health, and fostering collaboration between the CSUs at the international level are some of the CIDs goals, according to a news release.
“The CID is laying everything on the table,” Khalil said, “It’s our chance to use the collective research we’ve gained as professionals to help the sustainability and commerce in other countries.”