A Master of Science in Food Security and Climate Change (MS FSCC) degree is now being offered by a consortium of regional universities, under a program initiated by the Philippine-hosted Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA).
SEARCA Director Dr. Gil C. Saguiguit Jr. said he joined 16 partners in a workshop at Kasetsart University (KU) in Bangkok from February 14 to 16 to develop a quality plan and finalize the training tracks for the new master's degree in food security and climate change.
"Climate change is a global issue that exacerbates existing threats to food security and livelihoods. As Southeast Asia remains dependent on the climate-sensitive sectors of agriculture and forestry, it is now in an even more vulnerable position," Saguiguit said.
The MS FSCC program is an initiative of the SEARCA-led Southeast Asian University Consortium for Graduate Education in Agriculture and Natural Resources (UC), which seeks to internationalize higher education institutions in Southeast Asia.
It is funded by the ERASMUS+ Capacity Building in Higher Education program of the European Commission (EC) with Dr. Poonpipope Kasemsap of KU as head of the project.
Project partners also include the Agricultural, Veterinary and Forestry Institute of France (IAVFF-Agreenium) and the European Alliance on Agricultural Knowledge for Development (AGRINATURA).
IAVFF-Agreenium is a conglomerate that pools together the competencies of all the French public agricultural and veterinary research and higher education institutions, including the French Agricultural Research Center for International Development (CIRAD) and Montpellier SupAgro.
Dr. Didier Pillot of Montpellier SupAgro and Vice President of AGRINATURA was instrumental in the project development and its implementation, SEARCA said.
Other partners include the five UC members, Kasetsart University, University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB), Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM), and Universitas Gadjah Mada (UGM) and Institut Pertanian Bogor (IPB) in Indonesia; six other universities in Southeast Asia and three universities in Europe.
The other Southeast Asian partners are Royal University of Agriculture and University of Battambang in Cambodia, Nilai University in Malaysia, Central Luzon State University in the Philippines, and Prince Songkla University and Chiang Mai University in Thailand.
The European partner universities include Georg-August-University of Göttingen in Germany, Montpellier SupAgro in France, and University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences in Vienna (BOKU), Austria.
Saguiguit said that since interdisciplinary skills are needed to address food security and climate change, the key pillars of the new MS curriculum are natural sciences, agricultural and engineering techniques, and social and political disciplines.
"In particular, we need to produce graduates who can very well fit the professional profile needed by various institutions in order to strategically respond to the two-fold concern on climate change and food security," Saguiguit said.
As the atmosphere does not have borders, SEARCA and its partners believe that climate change adaptation and mitigation solutions require international solutions.
"Graduates of the new course will thus be prepared to act in different cultural, social, and institutional environments across countries and regions by internationalizing their studies through mobility," Saguiguit said.
The MS FSCC students will earn two degrees from two universities spending at least a month at a second university, and take a summer course, possibly at a third university.