Opened by Bill Gates and Government Minister Penny Mordaunt on 26 January 2018, the Global Academy of Agriculture and Food Security was established to tackle prevalent questions around sustainability, food and health. It is one of five academies within the University of Edinburgh, all of which focus on the delivery of global impact through collaborative action.
The Academy sits within the Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies at the Easter Bush Campus, along with closely aligned partners such as the Roslin Institute, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation funded Centre for Tropical Livestock Genetics and Health and Supporting Evidence Based Interventions programmes, and the Jeanne Marchig International Centre for Animal Welfare Education.
In its first year, the Academy has achieved a great deal. In addition to a considerable expansion in staff –academic, postdoctoral and professional services -it is now home to a dozen doctoral candidates and its first cohort of undergraduate and taught postgraduate students who are jointly taught with SRUC. Two further undergraduate programmes have been launched for 2019 entry. Eight new research projects are also underway, with a further 24 bids under review.
Professor Geoff Simm, Director of the Global Academy of Agriculture and Food Security, and Chair of Global Agriculture and Food Security, said:
“It’s been a really exciting first year – we have appointed a world class, highly motivated team of staff, we have our first cohort of energised, multinational students, and are building strategic partnerships to ensure impact in the Global North & South. Feeding the world’s growing population well, while protecting the natural systems on which we all depend, is one of the greatest challenges facing humanity. Over a third of the global population is affected by one or more forms of malnutrition – be that hunger, obesity or micronutrient deficiency. We look forward to growing the Academy as an interdisciplinary hub of expertise to support decision making to transform agri-food systems and food security through agenda-setting, impactful, inter-disciplinary research, teaching and translation to policy and practice, with our local and global partners.”
Agriculture and food security is one of the most significant, pressing concerns in the developing and developed world. The UN’s Sustainable Development Goals include crucial targets around hunger, climate and life on land, with sustainable agri-food systems supporting virtually all of the other goals. The work of the Academy will help address these goals.
Dylan Edgar – Year 1 student
My first year studying with the Global Academy of Agriculture and Food Security has easily exceeded my expectations. We’ve covered a multitude of diverse and fascinating topics, from isoquants to totipotency, eutrophication to the implications of Brexit. We’ve visited dairies, soil pits and fish farms, dissected lungs and livers and have been taught by over 30 captivating lecturers. The highlight of my year was a tour of an organic livestock farm in Perthshire, where the sheer scale and complexity of what it takes to run a farm was laid bare. Overall, this first year has gone from strength to strength and I look forward to what’s to come.
Luming Yang – Year 1 student
My First year in the Global Academy of Agriculture and Food Security: Honestly, it was only when I got the offer for the Agricultural Science (Global Agriculture and Food Security) degree that I started to notice the importance of agriculture in solving global issues, both environmentally and socially. Nearly all the SDGs are directly or indirectly related to agriculture to some degree. In my first year, I got so much help from all my professors and classmates on both academic life and the general student life in Edinburgh. I never regret joining the programme and I hope you will join too.
Agriculture is much more complex than just growing food or breeding animals, it is about environmental sustainability, society, politics and other global challenges. Many developing nations still have a high percent of their rural population working in the agriculture. By studying Agricultural Science, we can help to solve those environmental, social and political challenges in every developing country. The next half of the century will be our time, our generation, we will dominate this world and built a better one, starting from agriculture, and eventually extending much further beyond.