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University of Illinois starting global center for agri-communication

The Evans Center will focus on the professional development events, skills training, visiting journalist programs, unbiased media research and consumer outreach efforts.

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The College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences (ACES) at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign has announced plans to create the James F. Evans Global Center for Food and Agricultural Communications. This announcement, made on The Cowboy Channel during the National Ag Day celebration, aims to position Illinois as a key player in transforming global food systems through communication.

The center is named in honor of James F. Evans, a renowned figure in agricultural communications and an emeritus professor at the university. The Evans Center is set to enhance this field through various initiatives including outreach, professional development, research, and degree programs.

To establish the Evans Center, a fundraising campaign exceeding $5 million has been initiated, bolstered by a substantial anonymous donation made in Evans' name. The center's initial phase will begin this year, adjacent to a new learning innovation lab in the Funk Library at the College of ACES.

Associate Dean of Academic Programs in the College of ACES, Anna Ball, expressed enthusiasm about the opportunities the center will create for students and experts to address communication challenges in global food systems.

The center's development builds upon the strengths of the agricultural communications undergraduate and graduate programs at Illinois, which have been recently revised with extensive industry input. The program focuses on skill development, global awareness, and critical thinking.

Industry needs assessments indicate a high demand for communications skills in strategic thinking, knowledge mobilization, multimedia production, and leadership training. The Evans Center aims to address these needs through various initiatives, including professional development events, skills training, visiting journalist programs, unbiased media research, and consumer outreach efforts.

Ball emphasized the center’s global vision and its role in advancing food and agricultural communications to foster a sustainable future for both producers and consumers.

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