When walking down the hallways of the agricultural sciences building at Texas Tech University and peering through classroom windows, it is normal to see faculty who come from all around the world. The Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics is home to 22 faculty members, 11 of whom were born and raised outside the United States. The department’s faculty represents every continent except Antarctica and Australia.
Students in the department are gaining a variety of global perspectives by having a wide spectrum of international faculty available to educate them.
Preston Lawrence, a senior agricultural and applied economics major, spoke highly of the international faculty members within the department and about how they have helped him see things in new ways.
“By having so many professors from different parts of the world, I feel like they are able to bring different perspectives to the classroom,” Lawrence said. “Which is nice, especially when you’re learning about economics and economic trade.”
Lawrence also said the international faculty has helped him gain a better understanding of how countries outside the United States run their economies and markets because the faculty was able to apply their experiences to the lessons they teach in the classroom.
“It’s cool getting to listen to professors who come from others countries talk about how their countries did things compared to America,” Lawrence said.
International faculty members not only bring their own global experiences and perspectives, but they also help create a desire for students to create their own global perspectives.
“I like that the professors talk about more than just their country’s economy by talking about the cultural experiences you can gain from going there,” Lawrence said. “ It makes me want to take the time one day to travel to these places and see for myself what they are talking about.”
Lawrence believes the international faculty members help students develop an interest in what the world offers.
One of the biggest advantages students have in the department is their ability to study abroad. Students in the department have a large variety of study abroad options. Students can study in countries like Spain, China, Brazil, Ethiopia and Zimbabwe.
Jamie Malaga, Ph.D., professor of agricultural and applied economics, is from Peru and said international faculty members enhance both the department and study abroad opportunities
Malaga, who helps lead a study abroad trip to Seville, Spain, every summer, said faculty members from other countries can often have a better understanding of the country they are visiting, which helps students.
“For example, I speak Spanish,” Malaga said. “It can be hard for students to visit a Spanish-speaking country without knowing any Spanish, so it helps that I am there and can help translate and help connect them with the culture.”
Malaga also said there is a new study abroad trip to China offered and having faculty members from China will help students adapt to the Chinese culture. Having faculty members who have first-hand experience of what the country is like, gives a stronger connection and ability to navigate and learn in the country they are studying in.
Malaga said having faculty members from other countries enhances how he approaches teaching.
“It’s a source of learning other experiences,” Malaga said. “Even American professors can learn [from international professors], so, even for faculty it’s beneficial.”
Malaga is able to apply his fellow faculty members’ experiences to his course curriculum and feels it makes him a better instructor in the long run.
“That only makes my portfolio richer,” Malaga said.
Malaga and Lawrence both spoke highly of the department’s international faculty, as well as the faculty as a whole, explaining the opportunities students can gain from international faculty members.
“The faculty here for the Department of Agricultural and Applied Economic is second to none,” Lawrence said. “I’m confident in my choice to have Texas Tech for my education background and know my degree will hold a lot of creditability.”
The strong faculty base, learning environment and numerous global connections within the department have allowed its graduates to be successful in the workforce. Malaga said he believes Texas Tech students are exposed to more opportunities compared to other universities.
Malaga said students often learn more about real-world situations through experience rather than textbooks. Although time in the classroom is necessary, he believes experience is never a bad way of learning.
Learning is not all about theory, but practice as well.
Students within Texas Tech’s Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics are not only valuing the education they gain from international faculty but enjoy learning from them as well.
“I know I’ve enjoyed and appreciated my time here at Texas Tech in the classroom, and that’s why I chose to continue my education here at Texas Tech through their master’s program this coming fall,” Lawrence said.