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Action Research in Malawi: Students, Apply Now!

Published: Thursday, 16 Mar 2017
Author: Katie Deska
Department: Global Center for Food Systems Innovation

MSU's Global Center for Food Systems Innovation is now accepting applications for the third annual Frugal Innovation Practicum, an experiential, service-learning opportunity offered June 25 - August 24, 2017. The practicum is open to graduate and upper-level undergraduate students in diverse disciplines and will provide students with a deeper understanding of food environments in urban Africa.

Led by Dr. Stephanie White, an assistant professor in the Department of Community Sustainability, the practicum combines online and in-person classes; two half-day Michigan-based field trips; and two weeks of hands-on field work in Malawi, Africa.

While abroad, students from MSU will collaborate with their counterparts from Malawi's Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources and engage small- to medium-scaled food entrepreneurs. Through action research at urban food markets, the group will work to identify and propose appropriate (or, frugal) solutions to common problems in urban markets.

"It opens you up to the international development space and that's something that every student needs to learn to navigate in an increasingly globalized world. You get to work with real world problems with your peers from a different institution," said MSU graduate Trish Abalo, who attended the practicum in 2015 before joining the staff of GCFSI last year. "This program is an amazing investment because the returns far outweigh any costs. For me, that's meant I had an internship with the federal government, directly because of this program, specifically with the U.S. Agency for International Development. And, the program has led me to my very first job out of college."

Although the practicum is not affiliated with any particular course for credit, nor with MSU's Office of Study Abroad, a number of former practicum students have arranged with their departments to receive course credit. For details and the application, please visit Frugal Innovation Practicum, 2017.

"You know those moments that completely change your life and you can't exactly get across to people why?" said Abalo, "The Frugal Innovation Practicum has been that for me, and continues to shape me in ways I can't even say to people."

Click here to learn more about Abalo's story, or listen to Dr. White discuss the program, which she launched through GCFSI in 2015.

Housed within MSU's department of International Studies and Programs, the Global Center for Food Systems Innovation addresses critical pressures on the world's food supply by creating, testing and enabling the scaling of solutions. GCFSI takes a multidisciplinary approach that encompasses the entire food system and considers major environmental, economic and social trends, as well as workforce development needs that will impact future food security. Launched in 2012, GCFSI is one of eight development labs established through the Higher Education Solutions Network of the United States Agency for International Development.