International agriculture minor offers students global perspectives

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — With global, interdisciplinary coursework and a robust study-abroad program, the international agriculture minor is attracting students from a wide range of majors.

The international agriculture minor, commonly referred to as INTAG, is an 18 credit minor offered by the College of Agricultural Sciences to help students cultivate an understanding of international development and the agricultural systems of various cultures throughout the world. The program features courses in a broad range of academic fields, including socioeconomic and communication systems and nutritional sciences, and can be paired with any Penn State major.  

The INTAG minor requires that all students participate in some sort of international experience. Students can fulfill this requirement either by completing a semester-long research program or an embedded course, which is a class taught by Penn State faculty that has an international travel component.

“The embedded course was one of the most rewarding parts of my INTAG experience,” said Nicole Brunozzi, a community, environment, and development major and current INTAG student.

New Zealand Intad students

INTAG students can fulfill their travel abroad requirement with embedded courses like ERM 499: New Zealand Natural Resources.

Image: Nicki Finn

As part of her embedded class, the Bloomsburg native traveled to Western Kenya to work on building projects at the Nyeri Children and Youth Empowerment Center. While there, she coordinated with the center’s staff and youth on issues plaguing the Kenyan population and created resolution-based strategies to implement within the country.

“I believe whole-heartedly in participatory, grass-roots development, and this course has allowed me to experience development work firsthand,” said Brunozzi. “I will be returning this year to continue working for and learning alongside the Kenyan youth.”

Garrett Webster, a senior studying agricultural science, echoed Brunozzi’s sentiments. During his study abroad trip to Italy last year, Webster volunteered at a synergistic garden, helping to plant crops and studying new farming techniques. He used this opportunity to further build upon and apply the knowledge he gained from his INTAG courses.

“This study abroad program was the single greatest blessing and educational experience that I’ve had here at Penn State,” he said. “I learned so much about the agriculture sector and ways to reduce poverty and improve food security, two issues that I’m very passionate about.”

Since 2014, enrollment within the INTAG minor has substantially increased. Dan Tobin, research associate and coordinator of the office of international programs, believes that this trend is a result of the breadth of international opportunities offered by INTAG. He also thinks that students are more now passionate about global studies than before.

“Our students are constantly doing research to tap into different academic disciplines,” explained Tobin. “So we want to work with students to see what they're passionate about and make that a reality for them. We want to show that the research that they conduct is actually making a difference.”

The INTAG minor’s curriculum aims to enhance students’ critical thinking. Along with academic concepts, courses teach students how to conduct research, communicate across disciplines, utilize specific tools to bridge gaps between disciplines and make information accessible to others. These are skills that Tobin feels will be useful in the professional world.

“Agriculture has linkages to grand issues that we are facing,” said Tobin. “In my Introduction to International Agriculture class, we talk about economic theory, climate change, measures of development, technology and so much more. We really want to get students thinking about the intersectionality of agriculture.”

Students in the INTAG minor pursue a wide variety of professional fields. Some choose to attend graduate school, while others pursue jobs in the public sector, education, the food industry and the Peace Corps.

Apart from these successes, however, Tobin said that he has one main purpose for the students who pass through his doors.

“When students graduate from INTAG, we want them to be good citizens and professionals. We hope that they realize that their actions have a real place in the world. That’s our ultimate goal.”

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Last Updated March 24, 2017