AUBURN – The Auburn University Board of Trustees agreed on Feb. 3 to establish the International Hunger Institute, providing the university with another tool to use in the fight against domestic and global hunger.
The proposal from the College of Human Sciences was based on the college’s ongoing relationship with the United Nations World Food Programme and the university’s role as a land-, space- and sea-grant institution.
“No other institution is as well positioned to create an international hunger institute as Auburn University,” said June Henton, dean of the College of Human Sciences.
Henton and Harriet Giles, director of external relations for the college, are credited with starting Auburn’s role in the global war on hunger. In 2004, they spearheaded a partnership with the WFP and established the War on Hunger campaign on campus. As the effort grew and various hunger and sustainability initiatives began throughout campus, Henton and Giles led another charge between Auburn and WFP to develop a global movement, Universities Fighting World Hunger. There are now more than 200 colleges and universities worldwide following Auburn’s model in the fight against hunger and malnutrition at home and abroad.
“The establishment of the International Hunger Institute represents Auburn’s long-term commitment to ending the most pressing human sustainability issue we face as a state, nation and world,” Henton said. “Our unique relationship with the World Food Programme, a focus on both domestic and global hunger, a student grassroots campaign coupled with an academic agenda, and our multi-sector partnerships will provide the Institute with the leverage needed to build the power of collective engagement in the fight against hunger.”
Since its inception, Auburn’s War on Hunger has had a role in every school, college and major student organization on campus. Multidisciplinary cross-college efforts have been occurring in such areas as fisheries, geography, management, industrial design, pharmacy, engineering and nutrition.
Led by Douglas Coutts, WFP senior advisor on a four-year assignment at Auburn, many faculty members have either contributed to the introductory and capstone courses in the Hunger Studies minor or used courses in their own departments to present the concept of hunger within the context of their respective disciplines.
“Establishing this institute will build the infrastructure for securing greater levels of extramural funding, and enhancing the already existing strong collaborations among various colleges at Auburn University and across the region, nation, and the world,” said William Batchelor, director of the Alabama Agricultural Experiment Station and dean of the College of Agriculture.
The International Hunger Institute will be created within the Alabama Agricultural Experiment Station, and begin with startup funds Batchelor committed over the next three years. Initially, Henton will serve as the institute’s executive director and Giles will be its director of programming until funding is acquired to hire permanent staff.
(Written by Amy Weaver.)