UMD: A Globally Connected University

AGNR Doubles Down on China 2+2 Programs

Seven years ago, the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources (AGNR) pioneered at UMD a new model for collaborative degrees with international partners.

Dubbed “2+2,” it involved students at two leading Chinese universities— China Agricultural University (CAU) and Northwest Agriculture and Forestry University (Northwest A&F)—doing their first two years of basic coursework at their “home” institution, and then applying to complete their undergraduate degree with two years of advanced study at UMD.

With the success of the 60 students who have already graduated from the program, and the 50 more currently enrolled, AGNR recently announced an expansion of its “2+2” portfolio, involving new partners and topics of study.

In September, a delegation from AGNR visited CAU and Northwest A&F to renew the existing “2+2” programs, which offer degree options in agricultural and resource economics, animal and avian sciences, nutrition and food science, and plant science and landscape architecture. While at CAU, the delegation concluded an additional agreement, adding environmental science and technology to the list of UMD majors open to CAU students. The delegation also completed an environmental science “2+2” agreement with an entirely new partner: Xiamen University, a top-ranked institution located in Fujian province.

“Either of these new agreements with CAU or Xiamen could double the number of 2+2 students at AGNR. Together, the two agreements could triple the enrollment,” said Dan Kugler, assistant dean for special programs at AGNR.

According to Kugler, the benefits of expanding the mobility program extend to both countries. “Students from China benefit from experiencing an inquiry-based education style and cultural immersion,” he said. “U.S. students benefit from the diversity and cross-cultural experiences of these Chinese students.”

Cuiyun Wu, who began studying at UMD in 2012 and received her Bachelor of Science degree in agricultural and natural resource economics in 2014, developed a new appreciation for American culture along the way, as well as lasting friendships.

“My favorite memory was group projects with classmates,” said Wu. “I learned how to raise my opinions confidently without being offensive and how to walk out of my comfort zone.”

Her biggest challenges were the typical ones for international students, “to be away from my family and to study in languages other than Chinese.”

Wu, who now works as the international programs assistant coordinator for AGNR, is glad that the 2+2 program is expanding so that more students can take advantage of the same opportunities she had.

 “Compared to other Chinese students who did not have these kind of experiences, I have a more diversified background and I have access to really amazing resources here such aslibraries and experienced professors,” Wu said. “[Plus,] UMD is in a very good location because of its proximity to USDA, JIFSAN, and other governmental or non-governmental agencies in DC, which means a lot of internship opportunities.”

By Rachael Keeney, AGNR Global Partnerships