Making Global Connections to Help Feed the World
William Watt Matthews Director of the Institute of Ranch Management
2014 Ferrari Award Recipient
Jeff Geider is pioneering an applied education model to train food producers about sustainability.
With the global population projected to reach nine billion by 2050, how do food producers keep up with growing demands? That’s the question that keeps Jeff Geider busy.
As the director of TCU’s Institute of Ranch Management, Geider has taken the tenets of the university’s 58-year-old Ranch Management program and applied them to real-life issues concerning global sustainability.
“Food production is very, very important,” he says. “With increases in food prices, shortages in natural resources, weather-related phenomena, and national and international policy that affect food production and consumption, there’s a real need for educated resource managers to step up to the plate.”
So in 1998, the Institute was founded to provide practical help to the resource management industry by placing Ranch Management faculty, students and alumni in countries around the world. With a strategy to combine business education in the classroom with instruction in new technology and agricultural practices in the field, the Institute provides much-needed training in developing economies while fostering strong business and personal relationships that straddle oceans and time zones.
Since then, Geider’s phone hasn’t stopped ringing. “Our program is unique and adaptable. That’s what makes TCU different. And that’s why people from all over the world are contacting us.”
Requests are coming in from governmental agencies, NGOs and agricultural associations from countries as diverse as Ghana, Brazil, Panama, Scotland and France. They all are looking for the same thing: a partner who can help them develop sustainable agricultural practices.
“You would think they would contact a traditional agricultural school, but what they want is exactly what we provide – applied research. We actually go to these countries and show them how to address their specific issues.”
It all comes down to relationships. Geider has not only helped establish strong ties with Latin American, African and European governments and agricultural associations, but he has also brought TCU into some important partnerships with organizations like the Botanical Research Institute of Texas (BRIT) and the James Hutton Institute in Scotland.
One such program is The Global Academy, which takes TCU students from a variety of disciplines to countries like Panama to focus on a group project that addresses a particular theme – from sustainability to social justice to healthcare. As one of the faculty leaders for the Global Academy, Geider is able to interact with TCU students he may not have encountered otherwise.
“It’s really rewarding to be able to share my expertise in natural resource management and food security with a student majoring in environmental studies, English or business administration,” he says. “It’s a rare opportunity that you’d be hard-pressed to find anywhere else.”