BTHE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
INSTITUTE OF FOOD AND AGRICULTURAL SCIENCES
OFFICE OF E. T. YORK, JR.
f9.1 11...... BLDG. 106 / GAINESVILLE, FLORIDA 32611-0631 / TEL. 904/392-6545 / FAX 904/392-3161
M/ay 4, 1992
TO: Participants at April 28th Workshop on International
Programs Within the University of Florida
I enjoyed being at the workshop on international programs held at
Austin Carey Forest on Wednesday, April 28th. Since my voice
virtually ceased to function, it has been suggested that I might
distribute the notes that had been prepared for this meeting. (I have
been on some medication which tends to dry up my mouth and throat
as well as make me quite nervous. It's nothing serious but it becomes
very frustrating at times. Thank you for your indulgence.).
ETY:rg 'E.T. York Jr'
End. / /
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Notes for Workshop Dealing with the International Programs
of the University of Florida April 28, 1992
E.T. York, Jr.
Before looking at "where we might go from here," let me provide
a very brief historical perspective.
The U.S. involvement in foreign assistance developed largely
following World War II. First, there was a Marshall Plan in
Europe--which was primarily to provide financial aid to rebuild
following a devastating war.
Then as Point IV of his inaugural address, President Truman
proposed that the United States embark on a "bold, new program for
making the scientific advances and industrial progress available for the
improvement and growth of underdeveloped areas of the world." While
President Truman did not refer specifically to assistance in
agriculture, it was recognized then, as it is today, that agricultural
development is basic to the overall improvement of developing countries
and must be given highest priority in whatever is done to assist these
It may be noted that President Truman's proposal was, in part, a
recognition of how the United States has benefited from the
contributions of other nations to our own development process and
reflected a desire to assist others as we had been helped. Truman's
Point IV proposal came approximately 130 years after a former U.S.
president had expressed clearly the needs of a young, developing
country for assistance in science and technology. In 1820, Thomas
Jefferson said: "In an infant country such as ours, we must depend
for improvement on the science of other countries, long-established,
possessing better means and more advanced than we are. To prohibit
us from the benefit of foreign light is to confine us to long darkness."
Such a statement could well be echoed by developing countries around
the world today.
Truman's Point IV proposals were highly praised around the world
and the U.S. government responded by funding major bilateral and
multilateral development assistance programs.
From the beginning of the Point IV program, U.S. universities
have been keenly interested in these international development efforts
and have been active participants in them. In fact, on February 4th,
1949--just a few days after Truman's inaugural speech--the then
president of the National Association of State Universities and
Land-Grant Colleges, wrote President Truman as follows: "...Being
fully aware that sacrifices are involved in a world program such as
you have outlined, I am personally convinced, and our member
institutions, collectively, are convinced that the stability, welfare, and
democratic freedom of the world demand the cooperation of all
Americans in such a program. We feel this responsibility is
particularly incumbent upon us as colleges and universities...."
It should be noted that the first Administrator of the Technical
Cooperation Administration, the federal agency charged with
implementing the Point IV program, was a president of a land-grant
It is rather sad to note that there is probably less public support
for foreign aid today than at any time since World War II. But that's
another subject--not on our agenda today.
In looking ahead, let me direct some of my comments to my
colleagues in agriculture and some to the University as a whole. Some
special reference to agriculture is appropriate since agricultural
development is basic to the overall improvement of developing
countries. The World Bank points out that "agricultural production is
a key factor in the development of most countries. In the poorest
countries, it is critical."
Some in land-grant agricultural programs have been reluctant to
engage in international development work for fear of criticism from
domestic agricultural groups concerned about our "helping the
competition." This is rather ironic since such efforts may be the key
to strengthening our domestic agriculture--not weakening it.
The future of U.S. (and Florida) agriculture is closely tied to a
steady growth in demand for its products.
Major growth in demand for U.S. agricultural commodities will not
occur in the more industrialized countries of western Europe and Japan
which until recent years, accounted for a large share of our farm
exports. As in the U.S., these countries are experiencing a relatively
low rate of population growth and have reached levels of consumer
income and food demand where further substantial increases in per
capital consumption of agricultural commodities cannot be expected.
Furthermore, many of these countries are, themselves, surplus
producers of agricultural products.
Obviously, the greatest potential for growth in demand for U.S.
agricultural commodities is in the developing world. This is where
three-fourths of the world population is found, where 90% of the
population growth is occurring, where major food deficits now exist,
and where there is potential for substantial increases in per capital
food consumption. But the basic problem is that these are poor
countries--most with a per capital income of less than $300. annually.
And, of course, poor countries make for poor customers.
Most developing countries have agriculturally-based economies,
with most of their population employed in the agricultural
sector--usually at very low income levels. Improving the agricultural
economy is the key to raising per capital incomes in the economy as a
whole. Improvements in agriculture have a multiplier effect by
increasing per capital income, generating consumer demand, and
stimulating the development of other businesses and industries.
Experience has shown that in developing countries where people
are existing on bare subsistence levels of food, consumer expenditures
for food increase sharply as incomes improve. This results in
substantially greater demand for food than increased agricultural
production can accommodate. Therefore, this higher income and
greater purchasing power contribute to greater food imports.
Higher incomes also contribute to changing dietary patterns, with
consumers shifting to more meat and animal products and less cereals.
Such shifts contribute to enhanced imports of either animal products or
the feed to produce these products domestically.
There is much well-documented evidence that increased
agricultural production in Third World countries does, in fact,
contribute to substantial expansion in agricultural imports. For
example, a University of Illinois study recently found that the ten
developing countries having the most rapid rates of growth in
agricultural production in the 1970s increased their agricultural imports
during that period by an average of 68%. Ten other countries having
the slowest rate of growth in agricultural production during the same
period, increased food imports by only 3%.
Furthermore, USDA studies have indicated that when the poor
developing countries expand food imports, the United States is the
exporting country that benefits the most.
John Naisbitt, in his best-selling book, Megatrends, suggests
that, in the past, the more affluent nations have justified their aid to
their poor neighbors on the basis that it was morally right to provide
such help. He emphasizes, however, that while it is still morally right
to do this, there is perhaps another more compelling motivation--the
self interest of the more developed countries. He furthermore states:
"Only by developing the Third World, will the North (the
industrialized nations) be assured of adequate markets for its goods.
In an interdependent world, aid is not charity; it is an investment.
And it is an especially strategic investment considering that traditional
markets are becoming saturated."
So helping to strengthen the agriculture of developing countries
may be one of the best means of improving our own domestic
Several years ago (1984), I was invited to give the
Seaman A. Knapp Memorial address at the annual meeting of NASULGC.
The title was: "A Major International Dimension for U.S. Colleges of
Agriculture--An Imperative." In preparing the paper, I wrote several
colleagues in USAID who have observed the performance of universities
in international development assistance efforts over the years and
asked what they perceived to be the key factor in the success or
failure of such efforts. Without exception, all said that the principal
factor was the degree of university commitment to such programs.
One person commented that all universities have the talent; experience
can be gained quickly; but the element that is almost always lacking
when performance is inadequate is commitment.
These AID colleagues suggested that such a sense of university
commitment has several manifestations:
o The university induces, selects and sends its very best faculty
and administrative personnel on long-term, overseas
assignments--the kind of people most difficult to spare;
o It gives high-level, executive attention to the special policies and
procedures needed to assure that individual faculty members'
promotion, tenure and prestige benefit, rather than suffer, from
o It develops special support for its overseas activities, including
library resources, opportunities for foreign language
improvement, and so forth;
o It places truly top level people as field chiefs of party and
refrains from attempting to run the field programs from the
o It makes international programs just as much an integral part of
its overall university program as those components concerned with
I think these are very sound points to guide the universities'
future involvement in international programs.
It has become almost trite to talk about a shrinking globe and the
interdependence of the people on it. Obviously, we must have better
knowledge of other countries, their people, their cultures, and their
languages if we hope to prosper or perhaps even to survive.
This reality makes it essential that we orient university efforts to
respond to these obvious needs.
Now let me touch on a few factors which I think are vital to the
success of such efforts.
1. International programs or activities should not be something
separate and apart from what might be considered "regular"
programs. They need to be made an integral part of an ongoing
2. There needs to be a strong commitment to international programs
by the faculty and by all levels of administration right up to the
3. There must be an appropriate rewards system for those engaged
in international activities--especially those involved in long-term,
overseas efforts. Faculty members engaging in such efforts must
be assured that if their performance is meritorious, they will be
duly recognized in terms of tenure, promotion, and salary
increases. Indeed, active involvement in international activity
should be a positive, rather than a negative, factor in terms of
an individual's professional advancement.
4. Universities--in all disciplines--have a responsibility to give their
students a reasonable comprehension of world affairs and thus
equip them to become more intelligent and responsive citizens.
This is accomplished in part by broadening their curricula and
requiring significant exposure to appropriate courses in the social
sciences and humanities. Equally important, of course, is the
need to bring an international dimension to technical and
professional courses as well. All such courses should seek to
broaden the students' viewpoint by offering a global perspective
of the subject matter involved.
5. We must try to attract and/or develop a faculty whose members
are not only familiar with the global dimensions of a particular
subject, but who can also incorporate such dimensions into their
classroom activities. Certainly, a faculty whose background
includes such foreign experience is better equipped to incorporate
such a dimension into their teachings than one that has never
ventured far outside American cultural boundaries.
6. We must try to provide students a true international emphasis
that recognizes the place of non-western cultures with the
historical emphasis upon western cultures. Historically, when
U.S. students study foreign languages, the great majority are
concerned with French, Spanish or German. Yet most of the
global population is in the developing world--in Africa and
Asia--not Europe or the West. Most speak languages very
different in structure from the romance languages. Certainly, a
knowledge of the local language greatly enhances the ability of
university personnel to work in a Third World environment. This
is an area that, in my opinion, has been grossly neglected in
development assistance activities of universities.
We should recognize that every university is different and, to the
extent possible, every institution should attempt to build upon its
existing strengths as it emphasizes its international dimensions. Let
me cite two universities which have done that in a way that has been
extremely productive. My undergraduate alma mater, Auburn, has
elected to give primary emphasis to building upon its outstanding
domestic programs in aquaculture and fisheries. In a similar manner,
Mississippi State has built upon its domestic work in seed technology.
While both Mississippi State and Auburn are good, solid institutions,
neither would be considered to be a world class university. Yet they
have emerged as truly global centers--perhaps unexcelled anywhere in
the world in the areas in which they have elected to specialize. They
have done this by building upon existing strengths rather than by
trying to emulate other institutions.
In closing, perhaps my thoughts on this subject could be
summarized by quoting from a letter written by an AID colleague--who
was obviously concerned about the failure of many universities to give
adequate emphasis to developing an appropriate international dimension
to their programs. Let me quote two paragraphs from his letter:
"Often we find ourselves thinking as it were somehow unnatural
for a university to assume any obligations for international work. Yet
perhaps such programs are not nearly as esoteric as many activities
totally accepted as normal. Why is it less organic to a university's
interest to equip the university with experience and knowledge about
the developing parts of the world where its students may one day
work and where its farmers now find their markets, then to equip it to
work in astronomical observations of the stars where it is unlikely that
any of its students or faculty will ever visit? Why should faculty be
reluctant to develop a language capability to deal competently with
foreign friends or adversaries? How can scientists accept geographic
boundaries on the source (or applications) or their knowledge? Can
we really believe students, preparing now for careers which peak two
decades from now, are well educated if taught entirely by provincial
"Today, university leadership must recognize that its own
constituent interests, its student careers, and its own moral reasons
for existence cannot be solved by treating science as if it were
bounded by state lines, students as if they were to live in isolation
from world affairs, and their general publics as if the economic
destitution or progress of the poor countries did not matter."
I think these are very poignant and relevant comments concerning
the topic at hand.