Looking at the Future

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David Zilberman is a co-director of the Beahrs Environmental Leadership Program. He is a professor and holds the Robinson Chair in the Department of Agriculture and Resource Economics at UC Berkeley. He has served as a consultant to the World Bank, the USDA, the Food and Agriculture Organization, the Environmental Protection Agency, Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research and the California Department of Food and Agriculture.
by David Zilberman

As we celebrated our 15th anniversary, in human terms, the ELP is a teenager approaching adulthood. All together, we have had a happy childhood, with nurturing and supporting parents (the CNR, the Beahrs family and our other friends), and we have already built a wonderful alumni base. But that will allow us to expand, grow and contribute to the change. In addition, the ELP has a young and very dynamic sibling, the Master of Development Practice (MDP); there are synergies between the programs in terms of curriculum and personnel. The synergies between the programs will allow both of them to flourish. Finally, the ELP is now becoming part of CNR’s International & Executive Programs (IEP). The new home will bring an extended family that will include excellent environmental training.

Image icondavid-2-2005-robin-svet-and-david-in-russia-300x225_2.jpg Robin Marsh, Svetlana Chernikova, and David Zilberman in Russia 2005.

As we look into the future, it is clear that the summer program will continue to be a core event of the IEP, but I expect to see several other events that will enrich the ELP family and benefit the world. First, we have had several attempts to build affiliated ELP programs; the one in Russia was the most successful but unfortunately did not last, after the passing of Dr. Svetlana Chernikova. But we would strive to think about alternative models. For example, we may consider having two ELP annual programs, one in Berkeley and the other rotating across locations. The program does not need to be of the same length, and the rotating program may be specialized. I always welcome your input and suggestions for new programs.

Second, the current ELP mostly targets international students, and it is quite extensive, providing an excellent introduction to the Berkeley community. We may consider a shorter summer program that will be aimed at the ELP alumni and the whole Berkeley alumni community. It can be a one-week refresher of environmental and international problems that will combine cutting-edge knowledge with Berkeley fun! Such a program can integrate the ELP and CNR communities with the whole Berkeley community, and hopefully yield useful partnerships.

Third, the ELP as well as CNR’s IEP will aim to offer educational programs that will foster life-long learning opportunities to our alumni. The fast development in technology and policy, new tools, as well as emerging challenges require professionals to update themselves, and we believe that the CNR and the ELP can be in the frontier to provide the training, both on campus and globally.

Image icondavid-3-2002-Biotech-Panel-1024x363_2.jpg Biotech Panel at ELP 2002.

Finally, this future vision is ambitious but achievable. A key immediate challenge is to improve the communication and collaboration among all of us; it is to take advantage of our means of communication like the blog, the newsletter, and encourage the members of our alumni to engage in initiatives that will allow us to come together and start new projects. I believe that the IEP, under the leadership of Mio Katayama Owens, and Dean Gilless, CNR and of course, Dick Beahrs and our other friends, will be supportive of sound initiatives that will allow the ELP to grow. We would appreciate feedback and concrete proposals on how to enhance communication and interactions, ideas for new projects and even identifying new sources for support. I believe that together, we can make the world a better place.