“I have been developing and updating my courses to be market-driven and to meet the needs of the public and private sector. I have been changing my classes to be more student-centred learning. I am also increasingly using online teaching, flipped classes, developing MOOCs as open education resources for both undergraduate and postgraduate students,” he said by email.
Service Offices for Farmers
DeVilag and SureMap focus mainly on undergraduate and graduate students, but the projects are also looking beyond education and trying to reach all stakeholders in the agricultural value chain through farmer training and establishing service offices at the participating universities to provide technical support for the farmers and public and private sectors.
Climate change is an important aspect of the new curricula as well. The new study programs encourage students and faculty alike to look at their personal ecological footprint, while also addressing problems arising from climate change such as new crop diseases, water scarcity issues and how to have good harvests despite these problems. (See a related article, “Population Growth Compounds Climate Change.”)
But rather than teaching students how to respond to a specific set of challenges, the curricula seek to help students develop strategies that will enable them to recognize what will become a challenge in the future and how to find solutions for it.
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“People are often afraid of change so they stick to old tried and tested methods, but now it is clear that these methods lead to huge problems in the future,” von Laue said. “We are now living on the expense of our future generations, and this needs to change.”