Study in the USA: Arkansas, California and Arizona

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The COVID pandemic has had an impact on higher education, especially on experiential learning experiences. Due to the COVID pandemic, we canceled several study abroad programs. To provide the much-needed hands-on and face-to-face experience, we created an experiential learning course titled “Study in the USA" with variable destinations. The key driver of the course is experiential learning, hands-on and face-to-face experience with industries involved in food production. It is the purpose of this course to give insights into differences in production practices between the western states like Arizona and California and mid-Atlantic states like Virginia. Specific objectives of the course are: 1) Provide students with a baseline understanding of experiential learning so they can apply academic learning in work settings appropriate for their career plans, 2) Engage students in developing skills and competencies relating to producing food in the time of COVID- and climate change, and 3) Develop a deeper understanding of challenges faced by people who are engaged in all aspects of agricultural enterprises. While in California and Arizona, the course focused on water issues including water scarcity, availability and utilization of water, and most importantly, the politics of water. The course also explored labor issues specifically associated with vegetable production, indigenous farming, and way of life. Overall, the course provided far more than academics to help students recover from the pandemic, it provided a perfect platform for social interaction which was missing for several years due to the COVID pandemic.