International Studies & Programs

Innovation Scholars Program Excursion

Field study inspires Malawian faculty, administrators
Spring 2017

This spring, leaders of GCFSI's Innovation Scholars Program, Dr. Kurt Richter, Dr. Bill Heinrich and Dr. John Bonnell, took a dozen faculty members and administrators from Malawi's Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources (LUANAR) to Nairobi, Kenya for an introduction to one of Africa's most advanced innovation ecosystems.

To highlight a variety of student innovation hubs, start-up launch pads, and research-for-development institutions, the group visited Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT), the University of Nairobi, the Catholic University of Eastern Africa, the United States International University, the International Potato Center, the International Livestock Research Institute, and local start-up incubators Nailab and iHub,

The three-day Field Study for Innovation in African Food Systems opened new doors for regional collaboration and sparked new ideas. Throughout the excursion, participants were encouraged to reflect on how these systems work and how they might be contextualized in the institutional environment of LUANAR, as well as in the broader Malawian food system.

While visiting the banana tissue culture laboratory (featured above) at JKUAT, LUANAR horticulture professor, Abel Safasi, witnessed the mutually symbiotic relationship between the university and the private sector. The banana tissue cultivation lab at JKUAT serves as a training ground for students, and meets regional farmer demand for sterile banana seedlings. The profitable lab piqued Safasi's interest and inspired him to continue discussions with LUANAR administrators to establish a revenue-generating seed certification enterprise on LUANAR's campus.

To design and facilitate the Field Study GCFSI collaborated with faculty from the Catholic University of East Africa and MSU's Hub for Innovation in Learning and Teaching and Center for Global Connections.

Scholars at JKUAT banana tissue culture lab.jpgScholars visit a banana tissue cultivation lab at Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology.