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  • Nancy Ruther, EdD

CLICK's Soil Spotlight: Future Global Learning in Agriculture

After attending this year’s Global Learning in Agriculture conference, GLAG21: Taking Action, the Gazelle Intl team is excited to explore how CLICK virtual exchange can improve and enrich your agriculture courses. Let us share in-depth our “Soil Spotlight” of how one CLICK module worked for students, faculty, and campus-wide global education efforts. Then let’s start a conversation about making new connections, CLICKing new courses, and exploring ways we can help you advance your global agricultural educational goals.

CLICK Soil Spotlight

Check out this CLICK project, “Global Understanding of Antibiotic Resistance in the Soil,” between the IUT de Nancy-Brabois, part of the Université de Lorraine, and Northwestern Connecticut Community College, to see one way Gazelle Intl has been involved in agriscience. Organizing a CLICK project in which students contributed to the “real world” beyond the classroom and made a real difference in their field and community really increased student motivation and pride in their accomplishments. It cemented teacher and campus partnerships, too. One student shared about their experience:

"I learned [...] how everyone can work together regardless of where they live and their primary language. It was obvious throughout the project just how much the French students enjoyed working with us, as we did with them, to expand our knowledge on antibiotic resistance. I thought it was a great experience, especially when we compared plate counts and shared our [data] between US and France soil."

The Connecticut microbiology teacher had been working with the Tufts University Prevalence of Antibiotic Resistance in the Environment (PARE) project and provided the connection for the student teams to contribute to this database. With Gazelle Intl training, the collaborating teachers on both sides of the Atlantic created shared learning objectives for their students:

1. Content learning:

  • Know how to and actually follow a microbiology protocol properly and analyze results thoughtfully.

  • Describe and explain regulatory, technological, ethical, and social contexts of organizations in a global society, to be applied to the PARE project.

  • Show evidence of selection of appropriate information pertinent to the subject.

2. Intercultural competence and global citizenship:

  • Demonstrate ability to work in a cross-national team and to communicate complex ideas in writing in English to different audiences.

3. 21st century skills:

  • Rationalize and present solutions to problems using technology and knowledge.

  • Identify how to ask the right questions during a scientific research project.

4. Personal growth and reflection:

  • Create a diary of the project from a personal as well as a scientific point of view.

Students in microbiology and statistics courses from France and the US worked in international, collaborative teams to collect field samples and conduct statistical analyses of soils near their homes and campuses. The collaborating language teachers supported cross-cultural and language learning. At the end of the module, the students’ research was submitted to the PARE database on antibiotic resistance. It was the first time that French samples were contributed and available for further study--and the students were immensely proud of this milestone!

Student, Faculty, and Program Connections

When we CLICK, we connect--the interpersonal relationships we build throughout our virtual exchanges are precious! They change the way we see ourselves and our aspirations.

In the CLICK Soil project, students were really pleased with this global learning experience per the post-CLICK survey results. Students reported many rewards of the process: meeting new people from other countries, learning about other cultures and analyzing the similarities and differences with their own culture, practicing new work methods and techniques, improving communication skills, making new discoveries, completing the overall project, and diving deeper into subject matter. One student noted:

“This project was more than just an academic project. Rather, it was an opportunity to learn more about other cultures and other countries besides my own.”

Another student explained in great detail how her participation in this virtual exchange awakened her interest to travel outside of the US for the first time and motivated her to begin language study.

One student who participated in this Spring CLICK module was able to travel to France for the Normandy Disruptors summer program. She marked “Strongly Agree” to the following statements in her post-travel survey:

  • The experience introduced me to a new outlook and new ways of thinking about how I relate to the world.

  • The experience changed my perception of another culture or country.

  • Learning to collaborate cross-culturally prepared me for the global workforce.

  • Through the experience, I made connections with students in another country that I will maintain beyond this program.

  • I feel I was well prepared to represent my school, Connecticut, and the USA during the program.

The CLICK module had helped prepare her to represent her school well while abroad and to value the importance of cross-cultural collaboration. The travel experience was an invaluable opportunity that changed her outlook of the world, and she reported that the greatest reward from this program was creating relationships with international students.

Teachers also gained a valuable experience from organizing this CLICK module alongside Gazelle Intl. One teacher noted in the post-CLICK survey for faculty:

“Overall, I enjoyed the collaboration between my colleagues and the partners in France. We had good ideas and executed them the best we could given the weather, time constraints, technology issues, etc. . . . I look forward to our continuing partnership and to grow from what we learned out of this experience. I hope to make this an extremely valuable experience for the students.”

The US team was able to visit their colleagues in France and receive one of the French teachers in Connecticut. These visits really cemented the instructors’ connection, and it was exciting to share how each partner teaches biology, with different teaching methods and practices.

These teachers really knocked it out of the park! They plan to repeat in the future even though COVID-19 stopped them temporarily. The enthusiasm was not one-sided--their teaching partners in France are also eager to repeat. The collaborating language teacher in France, Frédéric Hermant, and Nathalie Fick, the head of the Université de Lorraine's International Office, happily shared their views of working with Gazelle Intl and the CLICK teachers during the Community Colleges for International Development (CCID) conference of February 2020. In their video, Université de Lorraine talks CLICK!, they emphasized the importance for students of their School of Applied Sciences to develop group problem-solving skills and also share fun and personal information with their peers in the US community colleges, specifically Northwestern Connecticut CC. They explained that the larger purpose of this partnership was to integrate international perspectives and experiences into the curricula of both institutions in order to develop globally competent students, faculty, and staff. Plus, virtual exchange programs contribute to the upkeep of environmental imperatives and the protection of the planet, pushing institutions to accomplish Sustainable Development Goals 4 (Quality Education), 13 (Climate Action), and more.

Looking Ahead… CLICK and Global Learning in Agriculture

Moving forward, Gazelle Intl is enthusiastic about finding ways to collaborate with the “Global Teach Ag!” Network and other partners in the agriculture and agriscience fields. Beyond reviving our COVID-postponed soil project, a current CLICK Spring 2021 module, titled “Défi Gourmand/ Gourmet Challenge,” focuses on food and the importance of food to culture. After viewing Kiley Baerg’s presentation at GLAG21 on the agriCULTURE curriculum, we can’t wait for this CLICK module to begin so we can witness ideas in action--seeing how food and culture interact and hook students’ interest! We'll see just how much we really are what we eat!

Additionally, one of our CLICK teachers specializes in terroir and vineyard management and the diversity of viticulture in Burgundy and often incorporates industry knowledge from his experience in his business into his courses. Another partner works on fisheries. Overall, the IUT de Nancy-Brabois school of Applied Sciences trains students in biotechnologies, agri-food and agronomy, civil engineering, and more. One connection there has explored the possibility to connect, collaborate, and CLICK his Innovative Methods in Urban Farming course for lower division students with a course abroad. And there are many more agriculturally-focused IUTs across France to check out.

The possibilities are endless! If you’re interested in exploring an agriculture-focused CLICK virtual exchange module, get in touch with our “resident Aggie” and founder, Nancy Ruther and check out the dates of our open-offering Explore, Connect, and Design workshops this spring for individual or small groups of teachers or ask us about how we could adapt the CLICK system to help you advance your program or campus’s global agricultural learning needs.

February 24, 2021


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