HomeEducationGrand Challenge CoursesStudents to face Grand Challenge of feeding the world

Students to face Grand Challenge of feeding the world

Experts agree that global food production needs to double to feed the population by 2050. Making that happen without clearing what’s left of undeveloped habitats and increasing greenhouse gas emissions will be tricky.

Luckily, students at the University of Minnesota now have an opportunity to help solve this problem by registering for a Grand Challenge Curriculum course: Can We Feed the World Without Destroying It? (GCC 3001/5001), offered next fall semester.

The course is open to all students and fulfills an honors experience. Participants will delve into topics that include biodiversity, food waste, genetically modified organisms, the bioeconomy and more. Research on food systems conducted at the University provides much of the academic foundation for the course, but students will be encouraged to think broadly, exploring the complex issues involved via panel discussions, in-depth reading and group projects.

“What makes this course special is the way in which we tackle this question of ‘Can we feed the world without destroying it?’” says IonE fellow Jason Hill, course co-instructor and bioproducts and biosystems engineering associate professor in the College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences. “Each reading, lesson and activity is focused on advancing student understanding of the course’s central question and seeking realistic and equitable answers to it.” IonE fellow David Tilman, Regents professor and McKnight University Presidential Chair in the College of Biological Sciences, is the other course co-instructor.

“This course is a must for anyone interested in world hunger, poverty, food security or agriculture,” says Byron Rusnak, a GCC 3001 course alum studying plant sciences in the College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences.

“The project that my team tackled concerned trying to prevent collapses in crop yields that occur as a result of aquifer depletion,” Rusnak said. “For me, this course was actually life-changing. I had never fully realized the enormity of the task of feeding the world and the challenges we face trying to meet that goal. At the same time, I learned how to be an effective catalyst for change. I can now think critically about issues surrounding food security and appreciate small things I can do to help.”

Photo by Richard Schneider (Flickr/Creative  Commons)

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Institute on the Environment