Objectives and Attainment Targets of the Study Programme
The general objective of the joint International MSc in Rural Development (IMRD) is to train students from European and non-European countries, from developed, developing and transition countries to become specialists in Integrated Rural Development with focus on socio-economic and institutional aspects. The joint International MSc in Rural Development (IMRD) offers the opportunity to study international visions on Rural Development and rural economics, and to make comparative analyses of EU and non-EU agricultural and rural development strategies and policies;
On a successful completion of the program, students are, due to their high level academic and multi-disciplinary training and multi-cultural experience, able to:
- understand different socio-economic concepts, theories and multi-disciplinary approaches with respect to rural economies and rural development;
- apply theories and methodological approaches to characterise and analyse the economic and social problems of rural areas, food and agricultural chains, natural resource management, national and international agriculture;
- have profound insights in different rural development realities, and compare rural development issues, approaches and policies within an international context;
- Specific for the ATLANTIS track: comparison between rural economies and agricultural policies in EU/US; EKAFREE track: comparison between rural economies, transition economies and agricultural policies and food resources and markets in EU/Korea.
- design and implement adequate instruments, methods, models and innovative tools to analyse, evaluate and solve problems related to agriculture, food chain and natural resource- management, and to rural development and countryside stewardship;
- design, implement and monitor national and international agro-food policies, rural institutions and rural development programmes;
- construct innovative tools and instruments for the (multifunctional) development of rural areas;
- design and assess research in the domain of rural development, formulating a problem statement and operationalizing objectives and research questions within an adequate research plan;
- select and apply appropriate research methods and techniques to collect and analyse data from literature and empirical research in the domain of rural development;
- critically reflect on topical rural development issues, and on ethical and value driven aspects of research and intervention strategies;
- work in an integrated internationally composed team dealing with rural development and food production challenges, interacting respectfully with diverse others and developing a global perspective;
- dialogue and professionally interact with different actors and stakeholders of the socio-professional world (food sector, NGOs, rural organisations, rural administration, universities and research institutes);
- effectively and appropriately use good language, communication and behavioural skills in different language and cultural environments;
- communicate convincingly (written, oral, using appropriate tools) about (own) research findings and project results and their underpinning rationale;
- Self-Directed Learning: work independently, take initiative, and manage a project through to completion;
- design and plan own learning processes based on continuous reflection (individually and in discussion with others) upon personal knowledge, skills, and attitudes and functioning;
- Independently perform scientific research in the domain of rural development. Give proof of a clear international orientation.
In order to achieve these general objectives and learning outcomes, the 2 year Master programme (amongst others supported by the Erasmus Mundus programme of the European Union) is jointly organized by six European leading institutes in Agricultural Economics and Rural Development, in collaboration with several partners in the United States, China, Ecuador, India, and South-Africa.
Students can obtain the IMRD degree through different learning paths. Students study in at least two EU partner universities
- The Erasmus Mundus track gives the possibility to study either only in the EU or in the EU and in one of the third country partner universities for those who want a better understanding of rural development in developing/transition countries.
- The ATLANTIS track allows comparative analysis of EU and US rural development and agricultural economic problems and policies. The programme consists of one basic and two specialized training modules, a case study of one month, and an individual Master thesis research project. It involves a high extent of student and scholar mobility. These five main modules are organized over four study periods (2 academic years) and contain a minimum total of 120 ECTS or credits. Students need to comply with the mobility requirements in order to obtain the IMRD diploma (or the ATLANTIS double degree).
- The EKAFREE track allows comparative analysis of EU and the transition (food) economy in South Korea in terms of rural development. The programme is similar to that of the Erasmus Mundus and ATLANTIS track (one basic and two specialized training modules, a case study and an individual master dissertation). Students study in at least in two EU partner universities. European students start with the entrance module at UGent, Korean students at a Korean partner university.
In the first semester of the program, a general entrance module is offered for which the following learning objectives are formulated:
- Characterize different aspects of the multifunctional role of rural areas and agriculture, understand different issues related to rural development, rural economics, food security, markets
- Recognise and analyse complex problems related to rural development issues
- Analyse the role of agricultural marketing and marketing in rural development, understand basic concepts with respect to marketing and consumer behavior
- Analyse agricultural, food and rural development policies
- Be able to apply farm management techniques
- Combine the rural economic concepts within rural development management
- Implement methods to analyse problems and interpret results related to rural development and countryside management
The advanced modules enable the students to study specific topics of rural development at a specialized level. Advanced modules are offered at any of the six EU partners (Ghent University, Humboldt University Berlin, Agrocampus Ouest (Rennes), Slovak University of Agriculture (Nitra), Università di Pisa and University of Cordoba).
Rural Development in non-European Countries
Students have the opportunity to get acquainted with rural development in a non-European context by taking up a module, and/or by doing research in a non-European partner university:
- Rural development in Ecuador (resource and environmental economics)
- Rural development in India
- Rural development in China
- Rural development in South Africa
The course offer includes training on rural development theories and policies applied in their region, and field experience for collecting and interpreting data.