The Food-Energy-Water-Nexus as a Framework for Advancing Education and Education Research
The Food-Energy-Water-Nexus (FEW-Nexus) framework offers a way to understand the interplay between natural systems and their human dimensions in the space where these three resources, each vital to human society, intersect. The National Collaborative for Research on Food, Energy, and Water Education (NC-FEW) is a community of educators and education researchers dedicated to innovating FEW-Nexus teaching and learning in an array of educational contexts. Working groups, organized by educational context, provide thought leadership to drive NC-FEW goals forward. Foundational efforts by working groups led to identification of promising practices and important challenges that arise from using the FEW-Nexus as a conceptual framework to inform teaching, learning, and future research. In post-secondary education settings, the FEW-Nexus offers an ideal space for efforts aimed at advancing interdisciplinary teaching and learning, and can also support the development of systems thinking. Further, the FEW-Nexus challenges traditional structures of degree programs focused on mono-disciplinary outcomes, and raises the question of how education systems themselves may consider adapting to better address future needs. In K-12 education, the FEW-Nexus compels a view of scientific literacy for K-12 learners that is supportive of a sustainable future and necessary for responsible citizenship. The FEW-Nexus motivates collaboration across traditional K-12 subject areas to further examine and refine FEW-Nexus scientific literacy in order to develop educational resources to support K-12 educators. In informal and non-formal educational programs and science communication efforts, the FEW-Nexus can be utilized as a framework to support science learning, environmental justice, and sustainability. These spaces provide unique opportunities for addressing real-world FEW-Nexus related issues that affect learners and their communities through equitable stakeholder engagement. This work advances our understanding of the educational potential of the FEW-Nexus framework across disciplinary and educational contexts. Strengthening characterization of this conceptual space lays the groundwork for future educational research and practice.