Food, Energy, & Water in Society Undergraduate Minor

The 18 credit-hour Food, Energy, and Water in Society (FEWS) minor, recently developed and offered within the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources, will serve undergraduate students from across the university and provide integrated, multidisciplinary, learner-centered instruction in science and science-informed decision-making about FEW issues.  The FEWS minor is designed to offer all UNL students experiences that will prepare them with the knowledge and skills to analyze complex, real- world problems from a systems perspective to make informed decisions regarding current and emerging food, energy, and water issues, and the interrelatedness of agriculture, natural resources, and society. The minor combines coursework on science-informed decision making, the scientific and human dimensions of food, energy, and water systems, and experiential learning. Broadly, the emphases of these courses are twofold: students will 1) develop understanding of core disciplinary science concepts and 2) identify and analyze social, political and economic factors associated with food, energy, and water systems in the US and globally. The courses involve a variety of methods and activities, including individual and team research, student presentations, readings, lectures, and guest speakers grounded in tenets of effective post-secondary STEM instruction [1] [2].  With full administrative support, CASNR provided over $50,000 in seed funding for the minor by issuing a call for proposals from faculty to develop courses related to FEW systems in 2012. The FEWS minor was approved by CASNR and UNL governing bodies in spring of 2015.  Since 2015, the FEWS minor has benefitted from an additional $450,000 in funding from the National Science Foundation and USDA-NIFA.


Courses Affiliated with the CASNR Food, Energy, and Water in Society Undergraduate Minor

Course Options


SCIL 101: Science and Decision-Making for a Complex World OR

NRES 111: Natural Resource Conservation in Society


ALEC 108: Food Systems OR

ALEC 125: Land, Food and People


ENSC 110: Energy in Perspective OR ENSC 220:

Introduction to Energy Systems OR ENSC 230: Energy, Economics & the Environment


SCIL/AECN/ENVR/GEOG/NRES 109 Water in Society


SCIL 300 and 400 Experiential Learning in Food, Energy and Water Systems I and II


[1] Handelsman, J., Ebert-May, D., Beichner, R., Bruns, P., Chang, A., DeHann, R., Gentile, J., Lauffer, S., Stewart, J., Tilghman, S., & Wood, W. (2004). Scientific teaching.  Science, 304(5670), 521-522.

[2] National Research Council. (2012). Discipline-based education research: Understanding and improving learning in undergraduate science and engineering. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.