U.S. Agricultural Colleges’ International Strategic Partnerships: Leadership’s Critical Insights and Recommendations



Published Dec 31, 2021
William Lacy Jean-Yves Merilus Xiaoguang Liu


Laura R. Lacy


Historically, U.S. colleges of agriculture have been leaders in generating, disseminating, and applying the latest science to address the needs of society, in educating the next generation of professionals and leaders, and in engaging in international partnerships. As these processes and goals become more global, strategic international partnerships become more critical. To understand how college leaders are approaching these critical relationships, deans of 33 leading U.S. colleges of agriculture were surveyed on key aspects of their international partnerships. The most frequently identified major goals were: ‘enhancing the quality of research and scholarship’; and ‘strengthening students’ education’.  However, more than half the deans noted four challenging issues for realizing productive partnerships: ‘difference in educational quality and standards among partners’; ‘incongruent expectations between the institutions’; ‘language and cultural differences’; and ‘different levels of institutional commitment’. Fewer than half the deans indicated that dedicated resources were allocated for the partnerships. Ten critical topics often identified by college strategic plans were seen by most of the deans as important for their college but not nearly as important for their international partnerships. Three quarters of the deans identified seven factors for future successful international partnerships, including: ‘leadership at the program and college level’; and ‘adequate resources, including funding, eligible faculty, facilities and space’.  Several future research needs were identified: international strategic partnerships will require informed and creative college leadership and likely need to expand in scale, scope, diversity and complexity, draw successfully on the scientific knowledge worldwide, and carefully consider the wide, unique opportunities and challenges of these partnerships.

How to Cite

Lacy, W., Merilus, J.-Y., Liu, X. and Lacy, L. R. (2021) “U.S. Agricultural Colleges’ International Strategic Partnerships:: Leadership’s Critical Insights and Recommendations”, The International Journal of Sociology of Agriculture and Food. Paris, France, 27(2), pp. 23–38. doi: 10.48416/ijsaf.v27i2.446.
Abstract 318 | PDF Downloads 224


Aaron, N. Y. Cole. D.C. Mwangu, M. Guantai, A.N. & Zarowsky. (2020) Reciprocity in international interuniversity global health partnerships. Higher Education. Vol. 79. pp. 395-414.
American Academy of Arts & Sciences (2020) America and the International Future of Science. The Challenges for International Scientific Partnerships Initiative. https://www.amacad.org/sites/default/files/publication/downloads/2020-CISPReport1.pdf.
Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) (2017). The Challenge of Change: Harnessing University Discovery, Engagement, and Learning to Achieve Food and Nutrition Security. https://www.aplu.org/library/the-challenge-of-change/File
Bok D. (2003) Universities in the Marketplace: the Commercialization of Higher Education. Princeton University Press, USA, Princeton, NJ.
Busch, L. (2017) Knowledge for Sale: The Neoliberal Takeover of Higher Education. The MIT Press. Cambridge, MA.
Busch, L. & W. Lacy. (1983) Science, Agriculture and the Politics of Research. Boulder, CO: Westview Press. ISBN 9780367302177 republished November 9, 2020 by Routledge.
Chen, K., Zhang, Y. & Fu, X. (2019) International research collaboration: An emerging domain of innovation studies? Research Policy Vol. 48, No 1, pp. 149-168.
Congressional Research Service, (2020) Global Research and Development Expenditures: Fact Sheet. https://fas.org/sgp/crs/misc/R44283.pdf . Washington, D.C.
Craig, O. (2021) QS World University Rankings By Subject 2020: Methodology. https://www.topuniversities.com/subject-rankings/methodology.
Crew, B. (2019) The Top 10 Countries in Research Collaboration. Nature Index.https://www.natureindex.com/news-blog/data-visualization-top-ten-countries-research collaboration.
Cross-Border Education Research Team (2021, February). C-BERT International Campus Listing. [Data originally collected by Kevin Kinser and Jason E. Lane]. Available: http://cbert.org/resources-data/intl-campus/ Albany, NY.
Croucher, G. & Lacy. W. B. (2021). “The emergent of academic capitalism and university neoliberalism: Perspectives of Australian higher education leadership”. Higher Education. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10734-020-00655-7.
Deardorff, D. K. & Harvey C. (2018). Leading Internationalization: A Handbook for International Education Leaders. Sterling, VA: AIEA/Stylus Publishing.
Dusdal, J. & Powell, J.J. (2021) Benefits, motivations, and challenges of international collaborative research: A sociology of science case study. Science and Public Policy. https://doi.org/10.1093/scipol/scab010.
Glenna, L., Lacy, W., Welsh, R., & Biscotti, D. (2007) University administrators, agricultural biotechnology, and academic capitalism: Defining the public good to promote university-industry relationships. The Sociological Quarterly Vol. 48, (1 ): 141-163.
Giroux, H. A. (2010) Bare pedagogy and the scourge of neoliberalism: Rethinking higher education as a democratic public sphere. The Educational Forum Vol. 74, (3):184-196.
Heyl, J. D. & Hunter, F. J. H. (2019). The Senior International Officer as Change Agent (second edition). Sterling, VA: AIEA/Stylus Publishing.
Holt-Giménez, E. (2019) Capitalism, food, and social movements: The political economy of food system transformation. Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Community Development. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.5304/jafscd.2019.091.043.
IIE (Institute of International Education). (2016) Editor: Clare Banks. Global Perspectives on Strategic International Partnerships: A Guide to Building Sustainable Academic Linkages. IIE books. New York.
Kirstin R. W., Erin, M., Steven, Y. W., et al. (2020) International scientific Collaborative Activities and Barriers to them in Eight Societies. Accountability in Research. Vol. 27 (8): 477-495.
Lacy, W. (2004) The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Universities: Enhancing international learning, discovery and engagement. Institution for International Education (IIE) Networker. Fall. pp. 40-42.
Lacy, W.B., Glenna, B.L., Biscotti, D., Welsh, R., & Clancy K. (2014) The two cultures of science: Implications for university- industry relationships in U.S. agriculture biotechnology. Journal of Integrative Agriculture. vol.12 No.1, pp. 60345-7.
Lacy, W.B., Glenna, L., Biscotti, D., Welsh, J.R., & Lacy, L. R. (2020) Agricultural biotechnology, academic capitalism, and the two cultures of science. Journal of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology. 5 (2:04):1-5.
Loconto A. & Fouilleux E. (2019) Defining agroecology: Exploring the circulation of knowledge in FAO’s Global Dialogue, International Journal of Sociology of Agriculture & Food, Vol. 25(2):116-137.
Ma, J. & Montgomery, C. (2021). Constructing sustainable international partnerships in higher education: Linking the strategic and contingent through interpersonal relationships in the United Kingdom and China. Journal of Studies in International Education. July:51-65.
McMichael, P. (2013) Food Regimes and Agrarian Questions: Agrarian Change and Peasant Studies. Fernwood Publishing. Nova Scotia, Canada.
Merkx, G. W.& Nolan, R.W. (2015) Internationalizing the Academy: Lessons of Leadership in Higher Education. Harvard Education Press. Cambridge, MA.
National Science Foundation. (2018a) NSF announces changes to overseas offices. Press Statement 18-003: https://www.nsf.gov/news/news_summ.jsp?cntn_id=244589.
National Science Foundation (2018b) Science & Engineering Indicators. National Science Board:https://www.nsf.gov/statistics/2018/nsb20181/assets/nsb20181.pdf.
National Science Foundation Update (2020) Announcement: International networks tackle grand scientific challenges, with NSF support. Bulletin-09/11/2020. https://content.govdelivery.com/accounts/USNSF/bulletins/29fa977.
Olssen, M.  &Peters, M. (2005) Neoliberalism, higher education and the knowledge economy: from the free market to knowledge capitalism. Journal of Education Policy. Vol. 20(3): 313-345.
Pan, R.K, Kaski, K & Fortunato, S. (2012) World Citation and Collaboration Networks: Uncovering the Role of Geography in Science, Scientific Reports 2 (1): 902.
Payumo, J., Moore, D., Evans, M., & Arasu, P. (2019) An Evaluation of Researcher Motivations and Productivity Outcomes in International Collaboration and Partnerships at a U.S. Research-Intensive University. Interdisciplinary Journal of Partnership Studies 6(2):1-22.
QS World University Rankings – Methodology (2021) https://www.topuniversities.com/qs-world-university-rankings/methodology
Ribeiro, L.C., Rapini, M.S., Silva, L.A., & Albuquerque, E.M. (2018) Growth Patterns of the Network of International Collaboration in Science. Scientometrics.114:159-179.
Rudnick, J., Niles M., Lubell M., & Cramer L. (2019) A Comparative Analysis of Governance and Leadership in Agricultural Development Policy Networks. World Development. 117:112-126.
Slaughter S, & Rhoades G. (2004) Academic Capitalism and the New Economy: Markets, State, and Higher Education. The Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, MD.
United Nations (2020) The Sustainable Development Agenda. https://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/development-agenda/
Unnevehr, L.J., Loew, F.M., Baldwin, R.L., et. al. (2003) National Research Council. Frontiers in Agricultural Research: Food, Health, Environment, and Communities. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.
United States Agency for International Development (USAID). (2020) Feed the Future Innovation Labs https://www.feedthefuture.gov/feed-the-future-innovation-labs/
United States Agency for International Development (USAID) (2017) Legacy in Agricultural Development: 50 Years of Progress. https://www.usaid.gov/what-we-do/agriculture-and-food-security/usaids-legacy-agricultural-development.
United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). (2020) Developing Global Partnership. National Institute of Food and Agriculture. https://nifa.usda.gov/developing-global-Partnerships.
Welsh, R., Glenna, L., Lacy, W. B., and Biscotti, D.(2008) Close enough but not too far: Assessing the effects of university-industry research relationships and the use of academic capitalism. Research Policy. Vol. 37:1854-1864.
Wohlert R. (2020) Communication in international collaborative research teams. Studies in Communication and Media. Vol 9 (2); 151-217.
Woldegivorgis, A. A., Proctor, D. & de Wit, H. (2018). Internationalization of research: Key considerations and concerns. Journal of Studies in International Education. Vol. 22 (2): 161-176.
Zingerli, C. (2010) A sociology of international partnerships for sustainable development. European Journal of Development Research. Vol 22 (2): 217-233.