EDEN has been exploring how international relationships serve our domestic audiences for five years or more, with two lines of endeavor running in parallel. Five years ago, USDA NIFA scientist, Dr. Caroline Crocoll, introduced EDEN to Bicol University while working as a USDA Embassy Science Fellow in the Philippines. Bicol University created Bicol-EDEN and shortly thereafter requested membership in EDEN. In another part of the Pacific, Peter Barcinas, EDEN delegate from the University of Guam, was exploring possibilities for expanding extension disaster education activities in Asian Pacific Rim countries.
Several supporters of EDEN internationalizing emerged during discussions between EDEN and NIFA leaders and among EDEN delegates; those discussions focused primarily on helping identify the domestic benefits of EDEN’s expanding internationally. Chief among the supporters at the federal level were Beverly Samuel, USDA NIFA National Program Leader (NPL) and Dr. Hiram Larew, NIFA Center for International Programs director (recently retired).
EDEN took a first step toward internationalizing in 2012 when it brought Bicol University into EDEN as a member institution on a three-year trial basis. Bicol’s three-year pilot membership ends this year (2015), and while all the parties involved feel the benefit of the relationship, EDEN, NIFA and Bicol University must now decide whether to renew and expand “EDEN International Membership,” or to identify a different path toward the goals of internationalizing Extension disaster education and responding to the needs and desires of the potential international member institutions.
Dr. Keith Tidball, EDEN delegate from Cornell, focused on this question last year when he was the 2014 Visiting Scholar with USDA NIFA Division of Family and Consumer Sciences (DFCS). From that experience, he has produced a white paper, Internationalizing Extension Disaster Education–The Bicol University Philippines Case Study.