Tokyo professors raised glasses of Michigan wine with MSU officials Wednesday night as part of the 12th annual International Student Summit and Symposium on Higher Education in Agriculture.
The ongoing event allows 50 students and 34 academic leaders from 27 countries to discuss food security, global climate change, crop protection and the role of women in agriculture.
Summit participants had the opportunity this week to hear from MSU President Lou Anna K. Simon and other MSU and statewide leaders, such as the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development director, Jamie Clover Adams.
“The growth in our industry is going to depend upon exports, and many of these countries might be places that we could go with some of our products,” Clover Adams said. “I know some of the operations we have are probably things (foreign leaders) are not used to seeing and so it will be kind of nice to see how they’ll react to those things.”
Students in attendance spent Monday through Wednesday preparing presentations on some of the world’s biggest food production and energy problems to show to international leaders Thursday and Friday.
Akimi Fujimoto, a professor at Tokyo University of Agriculture, started the International Student Summit 12 years ago and is excited to address the students.
“It’s kind of an international leadership training,” Fujimoto said. “I like to build a framework for (students) to make it easy to know why they are here and why they are invited.”
Fujimoto has been pushing to host the conference in Michigan instead of Tokyo for five years, he said.
“We all see the value of how important it can be … (to have) a gathering of so many students from different countries,” he said.
Abby Rubley, communications and strategic directions manager for the MSU Institute of International Agriculture, said MSU is the only school from the U.S. that has ever been invited to host this event.
“The idea is to do it with undergraduate students because these are the future leaders — these are the people that are actually going to be making a real impact on some of the most wicked problems in the world,” Rubley said.