San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

CATIE receives grant to create degree programs in sustainable development

The Tropical Agricultural Research and Higher Education Center (CATIE), located near the Costa Rican Caribbean slope town of Turrialba, was awarded an $800,000 grant on May 4 from the Chicago-based John D. and Katherine T. MacArthur Foundation. The funds are part of a worldwide program to establish Global Masters in Development Practice programs in universities around the world.

One of ten universities that received funding this year to develop such a program, CATIE joins the Global Master´s in Development Practice Programs Network, comprised of 20 universities worldwide. In a press release, CATIE said that the research and graduate studies institution was considered favorably due to its “vast experience in tropical agriculture, natural resource management, and sustainable development.” According to CATIE, other strong points were having a student body representing the Central American region; its exceptional academic quality; and the infrastructure and planning to ensure the financial sustainability of the program beyond this three-year start-up grant.

The new master´s programs go beyond typical development studies programs to focus on multi-dimensional problems such as malnutrition, extreme poverty, climate change, infectious disease control, conservation, and agricultural productivity through an integrated approach that draws on the core disciplines of natural sciences, social sciences, health sciences, and management. Students will develop analytical as well as practical skills through extensive field training, according to the MacArthur Foundation´s website.

“Today´s global development challenges—from human rights to extreme poverty and climate change—are interconnected,” said Barry Lowenkron, MacArthur´s Vice President for Global Security and Sustainability. “So the next generation of sustainable development leaders must be able to draw on our best knowledge across multiple fields such as agronomy, health, and the environment.”

The establishment of the Global Master´s in Development Practice programs was a recommendation of Columbia University´s EARTH Institute´s study on education for the practice of sustainable development. The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation has committed over $15 million to establish the master´s programs worldwide over the next three years.

According to Joselyne Hoffman of CATIE´s public relations office, the institute was awarded a grant from the MacArthur foundation in 2009 to establish a specialization in development practices. CATIE´s mission is to reduce rural poverty by promoting competitive yet sustainable agriculture and resource management through higher education, scientific research, and technical extension, according to the regional institute´s website.

In total, the program hopes to generate 400 graduates worldwide by 2013, with an average annual enrollment of 800 across the globe.

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