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Enhancing Veterinary School Faculty and Student Competence in a Global Economy Through Curriculum Building and Strengthening Collaboration with China

Wu, Zhiguo
University of Pennsylvania
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The global economy increasingly calls upon the US agriculture to compete in a global marketplace. Continued population growth in developing countries fueled by their booming economies, particularly in China, will dramatically increase the demand for animal products. US animal agriculture is expected to play a major role in participating in these emerging markets. Veterinarians have traditionally played a vital role in safeguarding the health of animals and maintaining the vitality of animal production systems. As we advance into a progressively broadening global market, veterinarians need to be trained and re-tooled in many dimensions. Enriching the existing veterinary curriculum with new elements encompassing global competence in animal health, welfare, food safety, economics, and risk management is critically needed. Veterinary faculty need to gain the experience in international animal agriculture to create new research and teaching opportunities for students in order to broaden the window through which they view the world. The overall purpose of this project is to develop an international research and teaching program at the School of Veterinary Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, and to set up a model for training veterinary students in global competence in an international environment.

Specific objectives:

  1. To develop new curricular material that can be used to augment the current curricula in US veterinary schools and train future veterinarians in dimensions affecting international trade in animal products and technologies.
  2. To develop an internationally collaborative research and training program that is beneficial to faculty and students in US and China.
More information
NON-TECHNICAL SUMMARY: Emerging global agricultural markets present an immense opportunity for the US in exporting animal products and production technologies. The goal of this project is to develop an international research and training program to enhance veterinary students' participation in the global economy. Specific objectives are: 1) to develop new teaching material to augment the current curriculum in US veterinary schools for training future veterinarians in dimensions affecting international animal production; and 2) to develop an international research and training program to enhance the development and delivery of the teaching material. Two internet-based courses (Animal Production Economics, Dairy Nutrition) accessible by students attending veterinary schools will be developed, and a collaborative program with China will be carried out. Activities involved in the collaborative program will include on-site teaching of applied dairy production technologies in a foreign country and conducting feeding experiments in China. Adoption of these technologies can increase production and reduce the environmental impact of the dairy industry. The project will have a direct effect on the international competence of US veterinary students in a global economy, while enhancing US trade opportunities and the research and teaching capacity of veterinary school faculty.

Objective 1: Two internet-based courses will be developed for students attending veterinary schools:
1) Animal Production Economics. Key elements: (i) principle of marginal analysis, (ii) decision analysis, (iii) risk, (iv) optimization, (v) financial analysis, (vi) cost structure of common animal diseases and production inefficiencies, and (vii) economic concepts in the global economy;
2) Dairy Nutrition. Key elements: (i) nutrient requirements, (ii) feed ingredient composition and attributes, (iii) evaluation of rations, (iv) optimization of feeding systems, (v) ration formulation, (vi) environmental consequences of feeding systems, and (vii) nutritional effects on health and reproduction. These courses will be developed for internet access using Moodle. Each course will have a lesson plan for each of the listed key components. Each lesson will be supplemented by exercises, links to relevant sites, case studies, and a test for assessment of competency. In addition, the site will have a dictionary of terms that will be hyperlinked to the content of all pages. A news site will have weekly postings of links to issues relative to global animal production. A tools site will have spreadsheets, visual analytical models, and ration formulation programs.

Objective 2:
1) Field investigations in China. We intend to organize two trips to China (Ningxia and Zhejiang), one for faculty members to conduct an investigation to identify major limitations in milk production, and one for veterinary students to visit dairy operations. Both trips will include on-farm investigation and analysis of data. The student team will be composed of 5 third -year food animal majors at the School of Veterinary Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, led by a faculty member. The student team will be joined by peer students from Zhejiang University, China to develop a cross-cultural experience and improve the student international skills.
2) Two feeding experiments will be conducted in China. First, we plan to use CPM Dairy (a ration formulation program) as an evaluation tool to isolate the most important nutritional factors limiting milk production, and then make better balanced rations based on information obtained from the field trips. Ration balancing will be implemented on two farms in Zhejiang to demonstrate the effect on productivity. A second experiment will address the environmental concerns related to animal production in China using phosphorus as an example (manure phosphorus is harmful to the environment). A feeding experiment will be conducted at Zhejiang University to determine the possibility of reducing dietary phosphorus, thus phosphorus excretion, for dairy cows in China based on milk production, reproductive performance, and economic benefits.
3) Develop a feed database for a ration formulation program for use in China. Information on feeds collected during the field investigations will be used to initially construct a Chinese feed dictionary. Characteristics of a broader range of feedstuffs used in China will be compiled and streamlined toward developing a ration formulation program for teaching and utilization in China.

Funding Source
Nat'l. Inst. of Food and Agriculture
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