Santa Clara University

Food & Agribusiness Institute
RSS

Food & Agribusiness Institute

Food & Agribusiness Blog for news, events, announcements, and more.

The following postings have been filtered by tag FAI. clear filter
  •  Business of Beer: Gordon Biersch

    Speaker Dan Gordon, founder of Gordon Biersch
    Wednesday, November 9
    de Saisset Museum Auditorium
    6 PM Presentation open to all
    7 PM Tasting (21+)
    This event is currently at capacity. 
    If you would like to view the presentation, click here for a live stream.

    Join SCU’s Food & Agribusiness Institute in welcoming guest speaker Dan Gordon, founder of Gordon Biersch for a presentation about the behind the scenes aspects of the business of beer.   After the talk, there will be a free sampling session of a few varieties of Gordon Biersch lagers.

    For a bio of Dan Gordon, click here.

    For more information, contact FAI at fai@scu.edu, or call Erika French-Arnold at 408-554-5173.

     

  •  Immersion to Costa Rica and Nicaragua

    From June 27th through July 8th, Dr. Gregory Baker, director of the Food and Agribusiness Institute, led Santa Clara University's immersion experience in Costa Rica and Nicaragua.  Dr. Baker, along with FAI Assistant Director Jessica Gagnon and FAI Alumnus and Lecturer Michael Harwood, accompanied 8 SCU business undergraduates and 1 student leader to Costa Rica and Nicaragua where they participated in a range of fun, educational, and truly immersive activities.

    Zip lining, hikes to waterfalls, and city tours were among the lighthearted activities the students experienced.  Of the many farms that were toured, some included sugarcane, cacao, banana, and cheese.  They also visited Tierra y Agua, which is a community agriculture collaborative.  These tours walked them through the process from start to finish of growing, harvesting, preparing, and distributing such crops.  It also emphasized the economic impact agriculture has on these communities.  Also on the itinerary were visits to two universities, Earth University in Costa Rica and INCAE University in Nicaragua.  The students got to interact with local students from the area to gain a more personal perspective on issues of hunger and poverty in these communities.  They also visited an elementary school and health clinic in the extremely impoverished Camilo Ortega region in Nicaragua where they planted gardens and plantain trees with the locals.  Students stayed with host families a total of 5 nights, giving them an opportunity to feel closer to and more immersed in the community.

    Check out photos from the trip on Flickr.

    "Falling in love with the people of Costa Rica and Nicaragua has, indeed, transformed everything. I feel a renewed energy to apply to graduate school because by studying, teaching, and writing about literature, I give a voice to people, causes, and ideas."

    "I will never forget the stories I heard, jokes I laughed to, or people I met during this unique service experience."

    "In America we live our lives very individually, but in Costa Rica and Nicaragua, the history, culture, and traditions are so integrated into the lives of each family, institution and community."

    "Life is all about gaining perspective and I feel so blessed to have gained some in a different part of the world."

    "During our volunteer day, we helped children from the local school to plant banana and plantain trees, cucumbers, carrots and other vegetables in their own backyards. It was an amazing feeling to know that in a few months, families will be able to eat the products of our labor."

    "One of the greatest advantages of this trip in terms of learning was that we witnessed and experienced the vast differences between Costa Rica, the most developed country, and Nicaragua, the least developed country of the region. As much as this trip was to learn about agriculture, it was also to learn about development."

    "Being able to have visited these countries made me more interested in getting to know more and possible revisit in the future when I can bring my education and the skills I learn to help people in need."

    "Truthfully, I can say that I fell in love in Costa Rica and Nicaragua.  I fell in love with the people, the food, the culture, the nature, and the people that I was able to share this experience with."

    "After our trip to Costa Rica and Nicaragua I realized there are things more important in life. I now better appreciate that I am privileged and there are few things I should complain about. Family, close friends, and helping others bring joy. When we reach the end of our lives we can’t take any of our material wealth, but we will always carry our memories and emotions."

    This immersion was tied to a course taught by Dr. Baker, BUSN 151: Food, Hunger, Poverty, Environment Immersion: Costa Rica and Nicaragua, which focused on the social justice behind the business of food production, consumption, hunger, and poverty in those countries.

    Future immersions sponsored through FAI will be tied to the new FAI facilitated pathway, Food, Hunger, Poverty, and Environment.  More information about the FHPE Pathway.

  •  FAI MBA Students Place 2nd in Competition

    In mid-June, 5 MBAs from Santa Clara University took on the competition at this year’s International Food and Agribusiness Management Association (IFAMA) conference in Frankfurt, Germany, returning home with the 2nd place award in hand.  Entitled “The Road to 2050: Sustainability as Business Opportunity,” the conference called teams to explore the relationship between business practice and sustainable methods for meeting global food demand.

    The team, comprised of Brian Avants (MBA, Class of 2011), Suhas Mehta (2012), Justin Porter (2011), Dylan Salisbury (2010), and Didier Tshimbalanga (2012), competed against nine other teams from agribusiness programs across the globe including but not limited to Brazil, South Africa, and The Netherlands, only being edged out by Kansas State according to Dr. Gregory Baker, professor of management and director of the SCU Food and Agribusiness Institute. 

    With coaching from FAI MBA student/previous competition 1st place recipient Michael Enos and FAI Assistant Director Jessica Gagnon, the team showed up well prepared and determined to prove that their case study analysis skills were worthy of international recognition.  In addition to group recognition, team member Justin Porter was recognized as a best paper finalist. 

    Placing in this competition is not unfamiliar to the SCU team who claimed gold in the 2009 conference held in Hungary.  Congratulations team!

    Check out photos from the event on Flickr

  •  FAI Burma Trip Featured in Campus-Wide Newsletter

     

    SCU in Myanmar

    Two years ago, Americans could not visit Myanmar, the beautiful Southeast Asian country that is transitioning—with occasional setbacks and bouts of violence—from a military-ruled country to a democracy. 

    But in early September, a group of 11 Santa Clara University students responded to an invitation from the business school’s Food and Agribusiness Institute (FAI), and joined a trip to Myanmar as a way of learning up close about that country’s traditional and varied farming methods for everything from tea, rice, sugar, peanuts to grapes; its challenges to develop its agricultural industry without damaging the environment; and the threats of global warming to the country’s industrious inhabitants. 

    “We had hoped the students would be pushed out of their comfort zone to experience both the challenges and richness of life in a developing country,” said Naumes Family Professor Greg Baker, the director of FAI who also accompanied the students on the two-week trip. “When I hear students describe their experiences as transformative or life-changing, I know that we’ve been successful.”

    FAI Assistant Director Erika French-Arnold, who planned and co-chaperoned the trip, believes SCU may be the first university to take students on an immersion trip to Myanmar.

    Several  students recently shared their experience with fyi:  Garrett Jensen, a senior accounting major; Lisa McMonagle, a junior majoring in political science and environmental studies; and Nicole Orban, a junior finance major. They each marveled at the country’s beauty and how vastly different it is from America—from its pagoda-dotted landscape to its extravagantly friendly residents (some of whom had never seen an outsider before).

    “Myanmar has very little western influence,” said McMonagle. “If you visit in the future, it probably won’t be the same. We all felt we came at a very unique time.”

    Among the highlights for students was a trip to a Yangong village, which required a four-hour bus ride and a two-hour boat ride on a branch of the Irrawaddy River. They were heading to a village that had never been visited by foreigners, so some of the children had never seen people with white faces. When the SCU students arrived, the entire village welcomed the group, escorting them to a monastery, feeding them nonstop, offering them extra bedding and setting up mosquito nets.

    “We were really struck by their generosity, and we did not feel that we deserved that necessarily,” said McMonagle. “One of my friends said it made her really aware of how other people treat strangers in other parts of the world.”

    The students also visited the city of Bagan, home to thousands of pagodas and temples, and villages along the Inle Lake region, where villagers farm on unique lake gardens, floating incubators for crops like tomatoes, supported with bamboo and beds of weeds.

    The visit included many stays in monasteries; meditation with Buddhist monks; lessons in microfinance; an audience with a midwife who shared tales of NGO contraceptive workshops that didn’t quite take (think men taking birth control pills and putting condoms on fruit, as they had been shown in demonstrations); and an attempt at foot-steering a fishing boat that almost landed some students in the drink.

    The level of poverty in the area was a shock to some students. “The poverty I experienced in Burma was unlike anything I was expecting to see,” said Orban. “Before the trip, I imagined that I would come into contact with begging, homelessness, and people suffering from a lack of the necessities of life. I found the most significant poverty was a poverty of options.”

    Orban noted that many of the younger girls were excited to find husbands—and will never have the opportunity to travel or learn in a classroom. “They don't have the luxury of choosing a career path,” said Orban. “They will marry young, live life on a farm, and raise their daughters to do the same.”

    Also during their stay, the students couldn’t avoid politics and the fact that the country (called Burma by countries like America that didn’t recognize the right of the military to change the name in 1989) is still heavily influenced by the military, which gave up power in 2011.

    “All of the people we talked to were extremely honest,” said Jensen. “But they were hesitant to be honest if they were government employees.”

    The students are now taking two classes to reflect on the experience, and have become Facebook friends with an author on Burmese culture and food whom they met during a class session before the trip.

    “I think that our students gained an appreciation of how privileged they are,” said Baker. “They learned the importance of a functioning democracy, infrastructure, education, working markets, access to health care—all of the things that we take for granted.”

    Both students recalled fondly using their free time to climb to the top of a pagoda in Bagan at sunrise and sunset, where they surveyed the landscape of the entire region, with its verdant waterways, crops, and temples and pagodas “popping out everywhere,” said McMonagle.

    “We were seeing this ancient, ancient place,” she said. “It was just beautiful.”

Food & Agribusiness Institute
Categories
 
 
 
 
 
Printer-friendly format