New Science Literacy Initiative Faculty On Board at UNL

East Campus pillars at enterance

Aug. 20, 2013

LINCOLN, Neb. — The University of Nebraska-Lincoln's Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resource's Science Literacy Initiative received a big boost this summer with the hiring of several new faculty members.

These faculty members represent the first full subject-matter "cluster" in a major new hiring initiative at the Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources that ultimately will bring 36 new faculty members to UNL.

The new faculty members are Cory Forbes, science literacy coordinator; Jenny Melander, science literacy specialist; and Joe Dauer, life sciences education.  This team will be enhanced by Brad Barker, who is currently leading science and engineering programming for 4-H Youth Development, and Jenny Dauer, life sciences education.  Together, this team of discipline-based educational researchers will focus on empowering people to identify and analyze real-world problems and make informed decisions regarding food, fuel, water, landscape and people issues, and the interrelatedness of agriculture and natural resources stewardship.

"The goal is to help people increase their understanding of science through the lens of agriculture and environmental stewardship," said Chuck Hibberd, dean of UNL Extension.

The effort is critical for a state such as Nebraska where agriculture is so important, and also for a world striving to feed a growing population.

Steve Waller, dean of the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources, said, "Unique to this science literacy initiative is its focus on discipline-based educational research, a concept that integrates an understanding of teaching and learning with an intimate knowledge of specific discipline content. The concept offers a deeper, more enriched learning environment for students, and is nationally recognized as critical to better educating students in science, technology, engineering and math. Combining the most meaningful learning strategies with engaging science experiences is a win-win situation."

"These new IANR faculty members will join a growing group of colleagues also versed in discipline-based education research from UNL's College of Education and Human Sciences, The College of Arts and Sciences, and the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources," said Marjorie Kostelnik, dean of the College of Education and Human Sciences. "This holistic approach to science will not only have a positive impact on university students, but also will provide opportunities for Nebraska PK-12 teachers and those they teach."

IANR's Science Literacy Initiative has broad goals for a variety of audiences. Among them:

– For UNL students, improved science literacy through programs on food, fuel, water, landscapes, people and the integrated stewardship of agriculture and natural resources.

– For PK-12 education, preparing students for successful careers and a lifetime of informed decisions through food, fuel, water and landscape systems as models for formal and informal science education. The initiative also is focused on encouraging teachers to participate in professional development that helps them understand food systems and how to implement education about them into classrooms.

– For partners (including commodity groups, government, businesses and other educational entities) and the public, to inform and educate about current research and outreach related to food, fuel, water, landscapes and people.

Science literacy is a part of IANR's Innovating Agriculture and Natural Resources to 2025 initiative. More information is available at

Kathleen Lodl, Ph.D.
Associate Dean
UNL Extension

Tiffany Heng-Moss
Professor of Entomology
Associate Dean, CASNR

Dan Moser
IANR News Service

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