Grant to support the development of water in society undergraduate course

A new UNL undergraduate course will foster the teaching of science through big issues, such as water for agriculture. (Craig Chandler I UNL Communications)

July 19, 2016

Lincoln, Neb. — A three-year, $299,018 Improving Undergraduate STEM Education (IUSE) grant aims to foster undergraduate students’ science learning and water literacy at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln.

The funding will support the development of a new “Water in Society” undergraduate course. Water in Society will be an interdisciplinary course, drawing from the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education, hydrological sciences and social and decision sciences.

“This course will be an introduction to hydrology, but will also foster the teaching of science through big issues, such as water for agriculture,” said Cory Forbes, associate professor and science literacy coordinator at UNL and project leader of the grant.

Forbes is working on integrating this course into general education curriculum for students across all UNL campuses. It will be a required course as part of the new Food, Energy and Water in Society minor offered through the UNL College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources. The minor is designed to prepare all students, regardless of major, to make informed decisions regarding current and emerging food, energy, and water issues, and the interrelatedness of agriculture, natural resources and society.

“Our hope is that all UNL students, whether they’re studying to be a scientist, teacher or lawyer will have the background to make educated decisions when it comes to their food, and the Water in Society course can support that goal,” said Forbes. 

The new course also aligns with the mission of the UNL Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources Science Literacy Initiative which was formed to foster a scientifically-literate society capable of making effective decisions grounded in STEM-informed analysis of complex, real-world challenges associated with food, fuel, water, landscape and people issues.

In addition to Forbes, Nicholas Brozovic, director of policy at the Water for Food Global Institute, and Trenton Franz, assistant professor in the UNL School of Natural Resources are also working on the project.

Water in Society will be offered to all UNL students in the spring of 2017.

Cory Forbes
Associate Professor of Science Education
Coordinator, IANR Science Literacy
School of Natural Resources

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