FEW Graduate Scholars Program

We are looking for the graduate students, post-docs, and outstanding senior undergrads for Transdisciplinary Challenges for the Food-Energy-Water Nexus to cultivate an interdisciplinary peer network, develop teamwork skills and a CV-ready product as you explore solutions to a 'wicked' problem.

Do you have an interest in learning with others from different disciplines? Do you want to make the world a better place? Are you willing to leave your disciplinary comfort zone and experience new things? You’d be perfect for a cohort challenge. Please complete the application form in the link below.

FEW Graduate Scholars Program Application Form

We are looking for graduate students, post-docs, and outstanding senior undergrads for Transdisciplinary Challenges for the Food-Energy-Water Nexus to cultivate an interdisciplinary peer network, develop teamwork skills, and a CV-ready product as you explore solutions to a ‘wicked’ problem. Participants’ will be teamed up to tackle one of these cohort challenges:

What? The FEW Graduate Scholars Program is a novel practicum experience for engaging students to apply both their technical and soft skills for addressing a wicked challenge. These experiences will connect graduate students from diverse disciplines and locations through both virtual and face-to-face learning experiences. Previous participants have been located at universities in Washington, Idaho, California, Nebraska, Illinois, Iowa, Oregon, Minnesota, Texas, North Carolina, South Dakota, and São Paulo (Brazil). They represented disciplinary areas of soil science, economics, animal science, data science, sociology, ecology, environmental science, dairy science, and many disciplines of engineering. We welcome applicants from those areas and seek applicants from additional locations and disciplines.

 A multi-disciplinary team of university faculty designs graduates student experiences to help students successfully contribute to team-based approaches for addressing complex Food-Energy-Water challenges. They are creating “The INFEWS-ER” A Virtual Resource Center Enabling Graduate Innovations at the Nexus of Food, Energy, and Water Systems.  Previous cohorts addressed Managing Carbon in Dairy Systems, Nutrient Loss Reduction, Recovery and Reuse, Livestock and Local Community Relationships, Managing Nitrogen in Dairy Systems, and Disaster Relief and Resiliency.

Who? Outstanding senior undergraduates, graduate students in either M.S. and Ph.D. programs, and graduates in post-doc positions are encouraged to consider this learning opportunity. We are especially interested in the participation of individuals from a wide range of disciplines, e.g., social sciences, economists, engineers, and scientists. We also hope to recruit cohorts that represent a range of experience in qualitative, quantitative, or mixed-methods research.

When? The Cohort Challenge consists of weekly meetings after the start of the fall term, including a face-to-face* experience in March 2021, and conclude by May 2021.

Where? Students will experience the Cohort Challenge virtually through Zoom, Google Drive, and Moodle. One three days face-to-face* Capstone Symposium is anticipated during March 2021.

*If concerns over the COVID-19 pandemic preclude a face-to-face event, a virtual symposium will be held in its place.

How Much Time Will I Commit (student)?

Cohorts are designed to be roughly equivalent to a three-credit-hour course for those on a semester system (4.5 credit hours for those on a trimester system). We encourage students to work with their advisors to build this into their academic plans as a 3-credit hour special problems course. A full course syllabus and description are available for documentation requirements.

Both 2018 and 2019 challenges included 15-16 scheduled (minimum of one hour) video conference sessions (occurring mostly weekly) with the cohort mentors and guest speakers. Most student cohorts eventually organized meeting times on their own to work on their final product. Individual participants conducted research to develop their contribution to the final product.

What will you gain from this challenge?

Cohorts are encouraged to develop a final product (to be determined by the cohort) that can be added to the student’s CV or otherwise be included in their professional accomplishments. Products from past cohorts have included an educational website, journal article, recommendation report to policymakers, and others. There will be an opportunity for cohorts to contribute to an upcoming special journal issue sponsored by the INFEWS-ER project. 

Students who complete the challenge will receive a certificate recognizing the development of transdisciplinary skills through this program. If interested, they can participate as mentors for future cohorts.

Each cohort has identified learning objectives and learning outcomes. These outcomes are focused on both developments of interpersonal skills as well as technical skills.

Livestock and Local Community Outcomes

  • Students will develop a working knowledge of the economic, social, and environmental metrics associated with livestock production systems and supporting communities.
  • Students will gather and interpret qualitative and quantitative data to understand the factors contributing to local community and livestock production relationships within multiple counties.
  • Students will model cause-effect relationships of these factors for multiple counties in a common state, and develop a process that is transferable to other regions.

Disaster Relief and Resiliency Outcomes

  • Students will learn, gain, and demonstrate their understanding of globally relevant issues where problem-solving can contribute towards tangible, context-sensitive, and resilient solutions.
  • Students will demonstrate their understanding of the political, cultural, social issues preceding recent events in Puerto Rico, and how they may affect potential solutions.
  • Students will document their observations of the current state of Puerto Rico, its citizens, and its infrastructure, identifying current challenges for recovery.
  • Students will assess and prioritize the viability of potential social and technological solutions responding to current challenges in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria.
  • Students will draft action plans for communities and students groups seeking to provide service towards collaborating communities while in the country.
  • Students will produce a product demonstrating their contribution towards resilient short and long term solutions in the wake of Hurricane Maria.

Food Waste Learning Outcomes

  • Characterize the resources embedded in food wastes
  • Identify one or more ways to reduce food wastes
  • Explore opportunities to reduce food wastes in communities and redistribute healthy food to others

Interdisciplinary Outcomes

  • Students will implement concepts specific to Systems Thinking;
  • Students will communicate effectively across disciplines;
  • Students will apply principles of “High Performing Teams”;
  • Students will recognize the importance of engaging stakeholders and consider their perspectives in the proposed community odor model.

If this experience sounds like something you would like to explore, please complete the form in the link below. Filling out the form does not obligate you to participate, it does mean that we will include you in our emails as we get the cohorts organized. You are free to decline participation if you find that your schedule doesn’t work or the challenge isn’t what you expected. (But we hope you will be as excited about it as us!)

FEW Graduate Scholars Program Application Form