The Curriculum

The IGERT-specific curriculum accounts for a total of 13 credit hours, which qualifies Trainees for a minor in the Graduate Field of International Agriculture and Rural Development (IARD). It consists of:

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Together, the three-semester course sequence, multi-year professional development and research seminar and exploratory field research experience ensures that all Trainees, regardless of their field of doctoral study (i) possess some common analytical tools, (ii) are familiar with a common set of issues, concepts, theories, vocabularies, measurement methods and literature revolving around food systems and poverty reduction, (iii) acquire a broad, deep set of professional skills and interdisciplinary group research experiences that are commonly omitted from formal curricula.

IARD 6040/AEM 6040 Food Systems and Poverty Reduction: Concepts and Themes

(Fall, 3 credit hrs)

This is the first in a 3 course sequence developed to enhance students' understanding of the interrelationships among core scientific problems related to food systems and poverty reduction.

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The course introduces students to food systems concepts and themes and exposes them to the theories, methods and empirical evidence of multiple disciplines within the biophysical and social sciences. The course is team taught, in modular fashion, by a diverse group of faculty from different disciplines. It will supplement students' own disciplinary perspectives with a common, interdisciplinary knowledge to enhance multidisciplinary collaboration and critical thinking around food systems research and strategies/interventions aimed at reducing poverty.

IARD 6180/AEM 6180 Systems Dynamics Applications

(Spring, 4 credit hrs)

The overall objective of this course is to help the student develop a basic working knowledge of concepts important for system dynamics modeling in interdisciplinary settings.

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This includes providing sufficient modeling background to enable students: to use the system dynamics method as an interdisciplinary tool, to conceptualize and build moderately complex system dynamics models which emphasize interdisciplinary thinking, and to allow students to pursue further system dynamics modeling if they so desire.

IARD 6060/AEM 6060 Food Systems and Poverty Reduction: Integration

(Fall, 4 credit hrs)

This is the third course in a 3 course sequence developed to enhance students' understanding of multidisciplinary interrelationships among core scientific problems related to food systems and poverty reduction.

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This course emphasizes integration of different disciplinary insights concerning food systems, using a series of problem-oriented modules and food system case studies that cut across multiple disciplines. Students also engage in collaborative, team writing projects (3-4 students) around a specific food system problem. An interdisciplinary, group-authored draft journal article that marshals secondary evidence and poses novel conceptualizations is a target output for each student team.

IARD 6750/AEM 6750 Professional Skills Development Seminar

(2 semesters, 1 credit hr per semester)

For the first two semesters of their tenure, IGERT students (Trainees and Associates) participate in a bi-monthly, discussion-based seminar that is intended to accelerate the development of a core set of professional skills necessary for the conduct of high quality, field-based multidisciplinary research.

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The fall and spring seminars both help students gain experience interacting with their peers and communicating their science to scientists fro other disciplines or to a lay audience. During the first semester the emphasis is on attitudes and skills needed to work with communities and as members of multicultural and multidisciplinary field research teams (i.e., leaders and facilitation skills, teamwork, power dyamics, participatory methods, ethical issues at various scales and applications). During the second semester the focus shifts to skills related to the preparation and presentation of students' research proposals (scientific writing, peer review and presentation techniques), as well as to planning and budgeting for overseas field work.

IARD 6960/AEM 6960 Perspectives in International Development

Students are also strongly encouraged to attend the weekly seminar entitled 'Perspectives in International Development.' Coordinated by the Cornell International Institute for Food, Agriculture and Development (CIIFAD), this seminar invites prominent guest speakers, from a wide variety of disciplinary backgrounds, to address important ideas, issues and trends related to international development. Visit for information about the current semester's topics and speakers.

Field Research Experience

(1 semester plus summer)

Each Traineeship includes a generous ($10,000/fellow) allowance for a field-based research experience that takes place in the second semester and summer of his or her second project year. During this time period, students will have an opportunity to work together as a team on a short, multidisciplinary assignment. However, they will spend the majority of their time on research activities that are appropriate to their specific research topic. The experience is intended to build students' cross-cultural understanding and capacity in field-based primary data collection and international collaborative research.

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The field research experience takes place in Kenya and/or Ethiopia. These two countries were chosen for this portion of the training for several reasons. First, they are both poverty "hotspots" that offer outstanding opportunities for studying the food system processes at the core of this program. Additionally, our IGERT faculty team has extensive research experience and strong collaborative links with a number of international partners in these countries. As such, we can help students link with reserchers working on topics and projects that are relevant to their interests. Students who will be first-time researchers in the region will likely want to explore opportunities for collaborating with scientists at two of our primary partners in the region, the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) and Bahir Dar University. These two institutions include many scientists who are engaged in food systems-oriented research; they have also made a commitment to assist IGERT students with logistical support.

IGERT Trainees are not restricted to conducting their dissertation research in Kenya or Ethiopia. However, our program's Field Research Experience is restricted to these two countries. However, students who do conduct their dissertation research in Kenya or Ethiopia would have an advantage, since they would be able to use the Field Research Experience to collect data related to their dissertation research.