Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) and iAGRI Consortium led by Ohio State University

Fellowship Number: 
Field Location: 
Morogoro, Tanzania
Policy Location: 
Washington, DC
General Scope of Work: 
Capacity building for higher education institutions
Description of Organization: 

The Ohio State University is recognized worldwide for the quality and impact of its research, teaching, and service to its local community, state, nation, and the world.  The Office of International Programs in Agriculture, within the College of Food, Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (CFAES) of the Ohio State University, has a mission to support the globalization efforts of the college by engaging OSU faculty and students in international research, extension, and learning.  Employing the land grant model, OSU/CFAES works with developing country partners to build capacity in sustainable agriculture throughout the world.  The office conducts international agriculture research and capacity building programs in areas critical to food security, poverty reduction and hunger alleviation.  OSU works in areas of integrated pest management, horticulture, agronomy, microfinance, cereal production, irrigation, agricultural policy and natural resource management in Asia, Africa and Latin America.  OSU is the lead partner in a USAID-sponsored partnership of American, Tanzanian, and Africa-wide institutions called the Innovative Agricultural Research Initiative (iAGRI), which aims to strengthen the training and collaborative research capacities of Sokoine University of Agriculture (SUA) and the Tanzanian National Agricultural Research System with the goal to improve food security and agricultural productivity in Tanzania. 

The Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) is a research and advocacy organization of public research universities, land-grant institutions, and state university systems.  President Peter McPherson (former USAID Administrator and former president of Michigan State University) directs a staff of about 45 at the national office in Washington, DC.  The association’s membership includes 218 institutions, consisting of state universities, land-grant universities, state-university systems and related organizations.  APLU provides a forum for the discussion and development of policies and programs affecting higher education and the public interest.  APLU’s International Programs Office, where the Fellow would be housed, has the goal, among other things, to increase the engagement of US higher education institutions in international development.  The International Programs Office, while certainly not exclusively focused on agriculture, has a strong emphasis on agricultural development, given the large number of land-grant institutions among its membership. 

In 2007, APLU established the Africa-US Higher Education Initiative with a mission to strengthen the capacity of African higher education institutions through the development of partnerships between African and U.S. higher education institutions. The Initiative’s objectives are to increase investments in long term African-U.S. higher education partnerships; increase awareness of the importance of higher education (HE) to development in Africa; assist in the development and strengthening of African-U.S. higher education partnerships; and build capacity for HE institutions to be more effective in development.  As part of this initiative, a Knowledge Center on Higher Education in Development has been created to identify and promote evidence-based best practices of capacity building efforts to strengthen higher education institutions and increase their relevance to social and economic development. The Knowledge Center will create and communicate knowledge by undertaking targeted research and analysis; facilitating information exchange and dialogue between key stakeholders; and producing informed recommendations for policy formulation, programming and investment allocation.  While the Knowledge Center activities may initially emphasize Africa, its scope is global.

Project Description: 

The ability of developing countries to have institutions that can produce agricultural scientists and leaders who can solve their own country’s problems is key to long-term food security.  The Innovative Agricultural Research Initiative (iAGRI) is a five-year $24 million project that will improve Tanzania’s ability to produce the leaders, researchers, and applied scientists it needs to achieve sustainable food security and reduce poverty.  Sponsored by USAID, the iAGRI partnership of American, Tanzanian, and Africa-wide institutions aims to strengthen the training, collaborative research, and extension capacities of Sokoine University of Agriculture (SUA) and the Tanzanian National Agricultural Research System. 

An ambitious graduate education program will train Tanzanian M.S. and Ph.D. students in the agricultural sciences to prepare them to become the next generation of leaders in agriculture.  The project purpose is aligned with the themes and road map of the USAID Feed the Future initiative and the Government of Tanzania’s Comprehensive Africa Agricultural Development Program Compact and Agricultural Sector Development Program.

The Knowledge Center on Higher Education in Development has a mission to learn from existing Africa-US university partnerships, gather the evidence around best practices of higher education capacity building, and generate a public policy dialogue on the role of higher education in development.  The Knowledge Center’s work informs recommendations for policy formulation, programming and investment allocation and supports the Africa-US Higher Education Initiative’s mission of advocacy of higher education as a development priority.

Field Placement: 

The fellow will become an integral member of the iAGRI program management team based in Morogoro, Tanzania, under the leadership of Professor and Chief of Party David Kraybill.  The fellow’s primary responsibilities will include:

  • Assisting in the design and implementation of a leadership development program for administrative department heads and deputy heads at Sokoine University of Agriculture to facilitate alignment of organizational resources and activities to better carry out the existing recently-updated strategic plan of the university.  As a participant in the development and implementation of this plan and an observer of the project activities, the fellow will gain first-hand knowledge of the challenges of leadership transformation and benefit from the leadership program themselves by participation in the training;
  • Working with Sokoine University officials to refine and implement a teaching assistant program to prepare graduate students to teach, grade exams, and advise undergraduate students, drawing upon the successes and failures of a pilot teaching assistant program operated during the academic year 2012-2013;
  • Assisting the Bureau of Quality Assurance and Promotion at Sokoine University of Agriculture to develop programs and procedures to monitor and improve the quality of instruction and the quality of university classroom facilities and services;  
  • Taking leadership in establishing a series of fora that address the challenges of institutional transformation in higher education for agriculture development (with emphasis in part on university leadership) and capturing the output for broad dissemination;
  • Developing new university outreach partnerships in agriculture and food security with private sector organizations (firms or NGOs), working with officials of Sokoine University of Agriculture;
Policy Placement: 

The fellow’s policy year will be with the Knowledge Center on Higher Education in Development at APLU.  The fellow will be fully integrated into the Knowledge Center team, led by Dr. Laura Haas, participating in all strategic and technical meetings and assigned concrete tasks that will build the fellow’s understand of how the policy environment in Washington impacts the ability to conduct capacity building in the food security area with specific reference to their OSU/SUA partnerships experience.

A core element of the Knowledge Center’s mission is to learn from existing Africa-US university partnerships and the fellow’s yearlong field experience will provide an important opportunity for learning and evidence-gathering based on the Ohio State University/ Sokoine University partnership. The Policy Placement will capitalize upon this experience with the intent to generate new products for dissemination and dialogue.  Specifically, it is anticipated that the fellow would produce a policy paper summarizing learning from the field site forum series including the critical effort around leadership development. This policy paper would provide guidance on future leadership initiatives in the institutional transformational process as it relates to higher education and its role in enhancing food security. This policy paper and the emerging issues it identifies could be translated into a public policy discussion, bringing together academic and practice expert from the DC area to expand on the topics and promote active dialog among key stakeholders. 

In addition the fellow will help develop a paper comparing the OSU/Sokoine University partnership with the 11 partnerships funded under the Africa-US Higher Education Initiative and supported by HED in terms of best practices and specifically those best practices related to bringing about institutional transformation.   And finally, the fellow’s field year experience will provide a valuable contribution to the development of a handbook for implementing effective partnerships, including responsibilities of both the African and US institutions, inclusive of applied metrics to determine the effectiveness of the partnership in achieving stated goals. 

Education/Experience Required: 
  • Master’s degree 
  • Excellent communication, analytical, organizational and interpersonal skills 
  • Ability to work both independently and as part of a team


  • Master’s degree in a field related either to Agricultural Sciences, International Development, Higher Education, or Program Evaluation and Measurement.
  • At least one year of work or volunteer experience in a developing country, preferably in Africa.
  • Interest in better understanding and advocating for the role of higher education in development.