Improving Food-Energy-Water-Nexus-based Education: Defining new research directions from problems of practice

Monday 1:30pm-4:00pm
Afternoon Mini Workshop


Hannah Scherer, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State Univ
Doug Lombardi, University of Maryland-College Park
Shondricka Burrell, Morgan State University

The Food-Energy-Water (FEW)-Nexus framework helps describe and address natural resource challenges in complex coupled human-natural systems. As this framework gains traction in informal, non-formal, K-12, and higher education spaces, educators see the potential of the FEW-Nexus to prompt systems thinking and interdisciplinary problem-solving. This workshop will bring together educators who are (or would like to be) engaged in FEW-Nexus-based education with geoscience education researchers to share expertise and define new priority areas for education research in support of FEW-Nexus-based education. Participants will gain new insights into FEW-Nexus-based education to inform their own education or research practice, with opportunities for continued engagement with the National Collaborative for Research on Food, Energy, and Water Education (NC-FEW; beyond the workshop.


The objectives for this workshop are to collaboratively: 1) define FEW-Nexus-based education, 2) identify and describe challenges with FEW-Nexus-based education, and 3) ideate ways in which geoscience education research can generate new knowledge to address these challenges.


1:30 Introduction

Welcome, introductions, meet your neighbors, agenda and objectives

1:40 Part 1: Defining FEW-Nexus Based Education

  • What is the FEW-Nexus? Why is teaching at the FEW-Nexus important? Introductory framing of this as a problem space by facilitators. 
  • Table group discussion: What does FEW-Nexus-based education mean to you?
    • What does/could FEW-Nexus education look like in your context?
    • How does the FEW-Nexus connect to what/how you already teach?
    • What affordances does the FEW-Nexus provide in your educational context?
  • Share out from table discussions, then large group discussion on what it means
  • Facilitators share ideas from NC-FEW project vision document + STEM Teaching Tool


2:30 Part 2: Challenges Gallery Walk

  • Whole Group Ideation: challenges faced by educators in teaching about food, energy, and/or water-related topics and integrating FEW-Nexus concepts in their endeavors, and put each challenge on chart paper around the room. 
  • Individual Gallery Walk: visit the posters, and add questions/comments to further refine the challenges
  • Small Group Brainstorming: revisit posters and add ideas for how to address challenges through research or practice and resources needed
  • Ranking: individuals vote (with stickers or star with markers) for the top 2 challenges you think education researchers should address to assist educators in integrating FEW-Nexus-based education in their work. Add ideas about how/why.

3:05 Part 3: Idea Sharing

  • Sharing of ideas from the NC-FEW project regarding what strategies would help in overcoming the challenges
    • Data Talks as a potential resource and tool for helping with FEW instruction and making FEW instruction relevant to local contexts and situations. 
  • Other ideas from participants

3:30 Closure and Next Steps

  • What is NC-FEW? Overview of what we do, Working Groups, ways to plug in
  • NC-FEW is evolving; what are your ideas for how you want to continue in this work?
  • Q&A
  • Evaluation