Representatives from West Africa will participate in a public hearing on higher education titled “Catalyst for Change in Rural Communities,” to be held at 3:30 p.m. Thursday in the Recital Hall of the Bologna Performing Arts Center.
The representatives are partners with the University of Arkansas Pine Bluff (UAPB) in its Global River Basin Initiative, funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute for Food and Agriculture grant “From the Mississippi Delta to the Niger Delta: Strengthening Teaching and Extension Capacity at UAPB to Enhance International Programming in a Changing and Dynamic Local, Regional and Global Context.”
The event is hosted by the Division of Social Sciences and History at Delta State, in collaboration with UAPB’s Office of International Programs. The panelists will discuss how Delta State’s public service mission shapes the economic, cultural and social conditions in the Mississippi Delta region.
Delta State’s commitment to understanding and addressing the region’s economic and rural development issues will also be discussed.
“I’m truly excited about the possibilities that will unfold as we move forward with this novel capacity building project made possible by USDA,” says Pamela Moore, project director. “This initiative allows us to explore globalizing trends and their impact upon our institution, taking into account our land-grant designation and history of service to rural communities in the Lower Mississippi River Basin.”
Members of the West African delegation are from Rivers State, Nigeria and Dakar-Fann, Senegal, in the Niger River Basin of West Africa, an area similar to the Arkansas Delta. Delegation members include government and state agency officials, educators and leaders of non-government organizations.
The Office of International Programs at UAPB, through its three-year capacity grant, is working to advance institutional relationships in West Africa with the goal of strengthening UAPB’s international programming and creating more study abroad opportunities for UAPB students. UAPB has partnered with both areas because of the similarity of both delta basin areas.
The grant supports activities consistent with its three main objectives. One is the establishment of a working group reflective of the UAPB School of Agriculture, Fisheries and Human Sciences academic programs, which include both scholarly and experiential learning activities focusing on global trends and developments that impact the agricultural sector and rural communities in the Lower Mississippi River Basin.
The second objective is to establish a faculty led study abroad program incorporating topics relevant to agriculture, environmental sciences and rural development.
The third objective calls for the establishment of a sustainable international extension program through working partnerships, a memorandum of understanding and funding, and technical assistance for a multi-stakeholder rural development project in the Niger River Basin.
A needs assessment has been completed in Senegal and Nigeria to assess agriculture and rural development programs serving women, youth and subsistence farmers in rural areas — audiences traditionally served by UAPB.
While in the U.S., the delegation will visit Heifer International Headquarters, the Clinton School of Public Service and the Clinton Presidential Library in Little Rock; tour UAPB research projects and venues; and interact with UAPB and regionally based researchers.