MSU continues role in helping universities work toward global food security

Mississippi State University leaders recently helped guide a new report from the Association of Public and Land Grant Universities that identifies ways public research universities can lead in domestic and global food security.

The APLU’s Challenge of Change Commission’s report, titled “Harnessing University Discovery, Engagement and Learning to Achieve Food and Nutrition Security,” centers on the vast academic, research and leadership capabilities of public research universities to address the interdisciplinary challenges and opportunities for collaboration on food and nutrition security.

MSU President Mark E. Keenum, who last fall addressed the United Nations on the expertise universities have to address world hunger, served on the Challenge of Change Commission’s executive committee.

The Challenge of Change Commission, supported by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, encouraged public universities and their partners to identify specific challenges they can undertake. For more on the report, visit

“As our state’s leading research university and land-grant institution, Mississippi State is committed to solving the problem of hunger. It is one of our central research priorities, and an area where we have unmatched expertise and capabilities,” Keenum said.

“I’m very proud of our contributions to APLU’s Challenge of Change Commission report,” he said.

The report also featured the work of Kathleen Ragsdale, an associate research professor at MSU’s Social Science Research Center.

Ragsdale served on the commission’s Nutrition, Human Development and Health working group. She is working with colleagues from four other universities on a project aimed at enabling small-scale farmers to meet the rising demand for soybeans and to feed their families. The researchers are evaluating gender empowerment in Sub-Saharan Africa to help rural women farmers increase food security and health in their families and communities.

As a former Under Secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture and in his current role as MSU president, Keenum has dedicated a significant portion of his professional career to global food security issues. At the USDA, he was responsible for aid programs administered by the USDA Foreign Agricultural Service and worked closely with USAID, and the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization, and the World Food Programme.

Since coming to MSU in 2009, Keenum has worked to establish the university’s International Institute and partnerships with the U.N.’s Food and Agriculture Organization and the World Food Programme.

For more information on MSU’s global good security initiatives, visit

The Association of Public and Land-grant Universities is a research, policy and advocacy organization representing 235 public research universities, land-grant institutions, state university systems and affiliated organizations.

MSU is Mississippi’s leading university, available online at

James Carskadon | Public Affairs

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