Nebraska Collaborative for Food, Energy, and Water Education (NC-FEW)

A systemic, statewide, partnership-driven effort to foster science literacy about food, energy, and water systems in youth and adults.

Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources (IANR), University of Nebraska at Lincoln
Established: 2013

Vision and Goals

The Food-Energy-Water (FEW) Nexus, which emphasizes the interconnections between FEW systems and their human dimensions, serves as crucial framework through which to both a) cultivate systems thinking through education and outreach programming and b) study cognitive and socio-cultural elements of teaching and learning about FEW systems through discipline-based education research. As one of the most productive agricultural regions of the world, Nebraska is home to many contemporary issues that span food, energy, and water and to many educators with extensive expertise in FEW education and outreach. In light of these affordances, NC-FEW will serve as a nucleus for innovation in FEW education. The objectives of the NC-FEW are three-fold:

1. Advance FEW education and outreach efforts
2. Serve as a hub for research on FEW education efforts
3. Enhance collaboration around FEW education and education research in the state of Nebraska and beyond

NC-FEW will enhance capacity for high-impact social science research, cultivate significant stakeholder engagement and involvement in IANR Science Literacy efforts, and catalyze external funding to support affiliated activities. NC-FEW's long-term mission is to serve as a clearinghouse for evaluation of FEW education and outreach programs and as a hub for communication between researchers, educators, scientists, producers, policy-makers, and other stakeholders.

Center/Program Structure

A systemic initiative housed in the Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources. Leadership and coordination provided by a STEM education faculty member with partial leadership appointment. NC-FEW leadership reports directly to Deans of the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources, Extension, and Agricultural Research Division. NC-FEW core faculty include four STEM education faculty hired in 2013 as part of a Science Literacy cluster with contributions to NC-FEW's mission from personnel across IANR. NC-FEW is supported by one full-time staff member.

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NC-FEW is supported through institutional commitments, grant funding, and stakeholder support.

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Undergraduate STEM education programming associated with NC-FEW reflects institutional priorities and externally-funded grants.

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Description of Programming

NC-FEW's mission is being pursued in as part of IANR's Science Literacy Initiative through an integrated suite of programs grounded in a multidisciplinary body of theory and research and spanning campus, local, state, national, and international boundaries. Consistent with our organizational framework, the initiative is driven by four goals, one in each of our primary domains of work:

1. Improving science literacy among all UNL undergraduate and graduate students
2. Effectively preparing PK-12 students for successful careers and a lifetime of informed decisions about FEW issues
3. Informing and engaging partners and stakeholders about current programs and contemporary research
4. Supporting the public to interpret, reason, and make decisions about FEW issues

Successes and Impacts

Evaluation and Assessment

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Elements Contributing to Success

Supplemental Materials