Education in the Food-Energy-Water-Nexus: A Transdisciplinary Community
Wednesday 2:15pm Northrop Hall: 116
Oral Session Part of Wednesday A: Innovative Course Activities
Cory Forbes, University of Nebraska at Lincoln
Hannah Scherer, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State Univ
Institutions of higher education must take a leading role in preparing all global citizens for the food, energy, and water (FEW) challenges of today and tomorrow. The Food-Energy-Water Nexus concept has emerged as a unique opportunity to pursue a sustained, systemic, and transdisciplinary education initiative, including program evaluation and education research, focused on FEW issues. This effort spans a wide array of contexts, including K-12 and postsecondary classrooms, informal and non-formal learning environments, and in public spaces. However, no systematic effort currently exists to study strategies, processes, and outcomes of education focused on the FEW-Nexus. As a result, little research has been conducted to understand teaching and learning in the FEW-Nexus. To address this need, we are cultivating a national network of scholars engaged in FEW-Nexus educational programming and research through the recently-established Multistate Research Committee (NCDC231) - Collaborative for Research on Food, Energy, and Water Education (NC-FEW). NC-FEW will serve as a nucleus for efforts to 1) advance FEW education efforts; 2) foster FEW education research; and 3) enhance collaboration around FEW education and education research. In this presentation, we provide an overarching vision for this network through which to catalyze collaborative projects and comprehensive education research programs that produce empirical findings, delineating baseline data to be used to ascertain the effectiveness of FEW-Nexus education programs, develop innovative tools to aid in educational responsiveness to emergent FEW issues, and to address FEW issues worldwide through effective, research-based educational methods and interventions. We discuss novel theoretical and analytical perspectives the FEW-Nexus concept affords by emphasizing coupled human-natural systems and science-informed decision-making as core elements of teaching and learning within the FEW-Nexus. We illustrate these key themes of this work with example programmatic elements and selected empirical data from geoscience education programs at partner institutions grounded in the FEW-Nexus.