Deaton Institute hopes to collaborate with MU in international development

Deaton Institute hopes to work with faculty and students from MU and other UM System universities.

Former Chancellor Brady Deaton has been passionate about international development work since before his career at MU.

Deaton said retiring has allowed him to devote more time to issues he is “personally and professionally interested in.”

As executive director of the Brady and Anne Deaton Institute for University Leadership in International Development, Deaton said he hopes to increase MU’s involvement in international development efforts.

“A nation has to be able to preserve itself and be able to feed itself,” he said. “And it has to be able to do it in a way that protects the environment so it doesn’t deteriorate over time. These are global challenges we hope to work on.”

Deaton will also continue to serve as the chairman of the Board for International Food and Agricultural Development, which is a role he believes is interrelated to the objective of his institute.

“The interests (of the two positions) are very similar,” Deaton said. “Working on one strengthens my ability to work with the other, and the ideas can flow back and forth quite nicely.”

In addition, Deaton hopes to maintain his connection to MU and collaborate with academics and researchers at the university.

“I really think (MU) can help in several ways,” Deaton said. “We have a range of top quality research underway. We can collaborate with universities and research agencies around the world and enable that research to grow and do a better job of improving the world’s food supply and sustainability.”

Though the institute is only in its early stages, Deaton has been reaching out to several MU faculty members and researchers to discover what sort of projects he would like to become involved with.

“We are exploring right now; the first thing I want is to get a broad view,” Deaton said. “There are several very promising research and educational efforts underway that we see the Deaton Institute collaborating with and pushing it forward.”

One of Deaton’s conversations was with Kenneth Schneeberger, assistant dean for special programs in the College of Agriculture and international training coordinator for the College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources’ international programs.

Much like Deaton, Schneeberger’s main interests are in both agricultural and economic development.

Schneeberger worked with a research team in South Africa to determine the effectiveness of genetically modified crops in eliminating hunger in developing nations. He has also spent time promoting entrepreneurship in India.

Schneeberger said he is thrilled by the prospect of working with the Deaton Institute.

“We view the opportunity to work with Brady central to expanding what we do in CAFNR,” he said. “Our focus is not just on agriculture; our focus is to make MU more prominent in international development, and that is (Deaton’s) goal as well.”

Deaton also expressed interest in working with Robert Sharp, professor of plant sciences and director of the Interdisciplinary Plant Group, which is an umbrella community of plant scientists across MU.

One of Sharp’s major research projects focuses on plant adaptation to drought.

But extending his studies to relieving food security issues in developing nations is “quite a leap,” he said.

“The best science tends not to move very fast and takes time,” Sharp said. “But there is some greater urgency for global food security. The other obvious problem is that we need dramatically more funding for plant science research.”

Sharp said through collaborating with the Deaton Institute, he can better overcome the challenges.

“Deaton has tremendous connections from working with United States Agency for International Development and other agencies,” Sharp said. “I think bringing experts together to identify the key urgencies will help move things more rapidly, and I hope for more opportunities to network and gain funding.”

Deaton said he also hopes to expand collaboration beyond MU’s campus to other universities in the UM System.

“I have met with international leaders and chancellors of the other three universities in the UM System,” Deaton said. “I linked them to some of the discussions that are taking place here at MU, promoting a clear understanding across the campuses of what we are doing.”

Deaton said he hopes to improve political and economic stability across the globe.

“When we see shortages of food that lead to increasing prices at the wrong time, you can have really great political instability,” he said. “That destroys the ability for a nation to preserve itself and the environment. These are issues we hope to work on.”

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