Building a National Collaborative for Food, Energy, and Water Education (NC-FEW): Insights from a National Conference

Wednesday 4:30pm-5:45pm Beren Auditorium
Poster Session Part of Wednesday Poster Session


Cory Forbes, The University of Texas at Arlington
Hannah Scherer, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State Univ
Hui-Hui Wang, Purdue University-Main Campus
Nicole Sintov, Ohio State University-Main Campus
Christine Li, University of Missouri-Columbia
Kelly Millenbah, Michigan State University
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 report of the outcomes of a national invited conference recently held in May, 2018, which brought together 50 participants from an array of disciplinary backgrounds to develop an overarching vision, mission, and goals for this network and growing transdisciplinary community. We discuss novel theoretical and analytical perspectives the FEW-Nexus concept affords by emphasizing emergent themes discussed at the conference – systems thinking, science-informed decision-making, civic engagement, and disciplinary concepts - as core elements of teaching and learning about coupled human-natural systems 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.