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PAIA Students Learn About Food Security in Rome Over Thanksgiving Break

Professor Bertini and Students Welcomed by Executive Director of WFP at course in Rome, 2015

Professor Bertini and PAIA Students Welcomed by Executive Director of WFP at course in Rome

While the rest of us were (hopefully) enjoying the Thanksgiving Holiday with family and friends, 25 Maxwell graduate students were in Rome, Italy completing a course on Food Security with Professor Catherine Bertini.

Catherine was the one time Executive Director of the United Nation’s World Food Programme (’92 – ’02).  As chief executive officer of the organization, Professor Bertini is credited with assisting hundreds of millions of victims of wars and natural disasters throughout Africa, Asia, Latin America, the Middle East, and parts of Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union. In particular, she was widely praised for her efforts to end famine in North Korea; averting starvation in Afghanistan by delivering enormous amounts of urgently needed food aid in 2001; ensuring the provision of food supplies during the crises in Bosnia and Kosovo; and in 2000, averting the mass starvation that threatened 16 million people in the Horn of Africa. In 1996, The Times of London named her one of “The World’s Most Powerful Women.”

Catherine is the 2003 World Food Prize Laureate and, in 2007, was awarded the Gene White Lifetime Achievement Award for Child Nutrition.  She joined our Department as a Professor of Practice in 2005.  This is the second time she has brought a group of students to Rome over the Thanksgiving Break for this course – which is offered in alternate years.

Throughout the course, students heard from many experts at the three UN Food Agencies:  FAO (Food and Agricultural Organization), IFAD (International Fund for Agricultural Development) and WFP (World Food Programme).   Student comments highlight just how motivating and useful this course is …

Camila Urbina, a first year IR/MPA student from Colombia participated in the class:  “The Food Security course was a life-changing experience.  It was a master class on international management and a testament to Maxwell’s commitment to its students to provide the best learning opportunities”.  James Berring, a second year IR/MPA student, also spoke the practical application of this class, ” Even if food security is not your central focus, Professor Bertini’s leadership in taking over a struggling UN agency and helping to enable it to be the largest humanitarian organization in the world makes this course worthwhile for any future leader”  

Keome Rowe (IR/MPA 2016) and Anna Swanson (MPA 2016) - current students

Keome Rowe (IR/MPA) and Anna Swanson (MPA) current students enjoying their time in Rome

Keome Rowe, another second year IR/MPA student, and Charles B. Rangel International Affairs Fellow, expressed similar sentiments about the experience:  “Professor Bertini’s Food Security course in Rome was life changing! As a world citizen and future U.S. diplomat, I now have a high sense of urgency to help address food insecurity and poverty in the world.

In Rome, I learned that we currently produce enough food to feed all of the world’s seven billion people, yet the developed world wastes a majority of it. I also learned that we must address the systematic conflicts associated with hunger and poverty that includes gender inequality, people’s lack of access to investment in food production, education, healthcare to become food secure.

Finally, I learned that the tools and knowledge already exist to address these challenges but it takes collective action of individuals like you and I, political will and sustainable investment. It’s time to translate talk into action! Join the movement!  #ZeroHunger” 

And Carmen Smith, an MPA student, noted how special it to be afforded these opportunities …  I have to say that this was in invaluable experience. We were able to visit three UN organizations, meet and learn from leaders in the field, and make connections before we even start our careers. As I told one friend about this experience, she said “this is why you go to Maxwell”. Thinking about her comment, this is completely true; where else would I be able to take a class from the former ED of WFP, visit the headquarters of the WFP, FAO, and IFAD AND meet the current ED of the WFP? 

In addition, I was able to meet and make connections with other students in Maxwell that I may have not have met otherwise. I’m incredibly grateful to have had this opportunity!” 

We know that the connections our students make with one another, with our faculty, with our faculty member’s networks, and with our alumni all over the world opens doors and possibilities that just don’t exist elsewhere – as the Maxwell family is truly very strong, globally connected and deeply loyal!

Professor Bertini and her students at FAO sit visit in Rome

Professor Bertini and her students at FAO sit visit in Rome

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