Exploring graduate students’ socialization to international agriculture: A mixed methods needs assessment

Silvert et al. / Advances in Agricultural Development / January 2023

Agriculture Person in Field

Internationalization of higher education’s agricultural disciplines is essential to account for agrifood system trends toward globalization and multiculturalism. Professional and academic associations can play a formative role preparing graduate students for their agricultural careers. Guided by socialization theory, this needs assessment explores graduate students’ perceived needs, expectations, and ideas to optimize engagement with associations focused on international agriculture. A convergent mixed methods design integrated and contrasted quantitative and qualitative data from an online survey—filled by 26 student participants—and qualitative data from a virtual fishbone focus group with seven participants. Students’ perceptions appear responsive to trends toward globalized food systems and demonstrate their desire for socialization to gain internationally focused capacities and connections to opportunities in a variety of global agricultural areas. Findings indicate associations geared toward internationally oriented scholarship and academics should expand to better encompass international development practice. Doing so would provide greater insight into practitioners’ priorities and facilitate alternative career pathways for graduate students interested in practice. Additionally, findings point to needs for student mentoring and communication efforts focused on equitable and inclusive engagement with first generation students and students in developing countries who may be financially inhibited from traveling for in-person socialization activities.