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  • Agriculture
  • Global Development
Every year, the Borlaug International Dialogue hosts more than 65 countries to address global food security and nutrition. More than 15 Cornell researchers and students attended to provide transformative solutions for government agencies.

Hosted by the World Food Prize Foundation in Des Moines, Iowa, global development professionals and foreign governments gathered for bilateral meetings and main stage sessions. Conversations focused on conflict resilience in the food system, women’s empowerment, and private-public partnerships in climate change. 

The dialogues provide opportunities for bilateral agreements and program announcements, like the on-site announcement by USAID of additional Feed the Future Innovation Labs, including the Climate Resilient Cereals Innovation Lab that will partner with the Cornell-based Innovation Lab for Crop Improvement.

Amidst this event, Cornell representatives took to the global stage, including Bram Goverts, A.D. White Visiting Professor and Deputy General of CIMMYT, Dr. Ronnie Coffman, vice-chair of the Borlaug Global Rust Initiative and emeritus professor in the School of Integrative Plant Science, and Greg Jaffe, Senior Advisor to Secretary Vilsack and former visiting professor. They shared insights on the state of the food system alongside foreign governments.

A common phrase heard in food politics is food security is national security, a takeaway from global leaders who lead nations affected by conflict. For many, securing the future means developing those leaders that come next.

Hosted by the Department of Global Development, seven high school students who demonstrated outstanding performance at the New York Youth Institute in March 2023 were chosen to represent New York as youth delegates at the Global Youth Institute, in conjunction with the Borlaug Dialogue. These seven high school students presented their research and innovative food system solutions alongside numerous other exceptional student delegates from across the nation and internationally.

Among the chaperones at the event, Polly Endreny Holmberg, state coordinator of the New York Youth Institute, enjoys watching students grow into thought leaders. “Participating in the Global Youth Institute and other World Food Prize Foundation programs has an indelible impact on high school students," said Holmberg. "The experience helps shape them into global citizens and thoughtful leaders, influencing how they see the world and their role in addressing critical issues.” 

Some notable experiences for youth participants included sharing lunch with the Presidents of Kosovo and Ethiopia and expressing their views to top State Department officials.

Lauren Chuhta ’26, a global development and communications double major, was one of many Cornell students present at the event. As a former New York Youth Institute participant, and now facilitator at the Global Youth Institute, Lauren leads high school students in youth food empowerment.

“I got to facilitate discussions among high school students on community agency, victimhood projections, and systemic dependency structures,” Chuhta shared.

The week also included an annual prize, presented in honor of Norman E. Borlaug, an infamous wheat breeder who inspired the Green Revolution. Known as the Nobel Prize for agriculture, the World Food Prize has been presented to Laureate scientists and food systems change makers. 

“Interacting with this year's World Food Prize Laureate, Heidi Kuhn, was particularly inspiring,” said Chuhta. “Her humility and dedication emphasized the global commitment to food security, purpose shining through decorum.”

Among those supporting the newest member of this esteemed group were Cornell’s own laureates. This includes Jan Low, an adjunct professor in Global Development and 2016 laureate, along with Per Pinstrup Anderson, professor emeritus of Nutritional Sciences and 2001 laureate.

Several research groups and volunteers played an active part in the dialogue. Also in attendance included Sarah Evanega, professor at Boyce Science Institute; Polly Holmberg, associate director of the Humphrey Fellowship at Cornell and state coordinator of the New York Youth Institute; Jake Zajkowski ‘26, World Food Prize Intern; and Benjamin Quint ‘27, an USDA Wallace-Carver Fellow.

Cornell continues to maintain a central role in the transformation of the global food system. As a result, Lauren and the Cornellians in attendance are now more effectively equipped to foster the progression of the global food system in their research, teaching and extension efforts.

Jake Zajkowski ’26 is an Agricultural Science major in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Cornell University. He is a World Food Prize intern, and works as a communications assistant for Cornell’s Food System & Global Change research group. 

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