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K-State Today

April 10, 2019

K-State's Beef Cattle Institute receives planning grant to collaborate campuswide on sustainability education

Submitted by Audrey Hambright

Kansas State University's Beef Cattle Institute, or BCI, and research collaborators from the apparel, textiles, and interior design department and hospitality management department, have received a $30,000 planning grant to further investigate and pursue an educational framework for sustainability using the beef value chain.

Project directors include Brad White, director of the BCI; Patti Dollarhide, registered dietitian and director of beef value chain alliances with the BCI; Junehee Kwon, professor of hospitality management; and Melody LeHew, professor of apparel, textiles, and interior design.

The $30,000 planning grant, funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture National Institute of Food and Agriculture, or USDA NIFA, will provide the group with resources to plan for and seek a larger USDA NIFA-funded grant with two other collaborators, such as the U.S. Roundtable for Sustainable Beef and the Noble Research Institute. The larger grant would seek to provide educators with resources for infusing sustainability education into current animal sciences, hospitality management, and apparel and textiles baccalaureate programs using beef cattle as a case study.

"The idea for the grant is to develop faculty, enabling them to deliver curriculum using systems thinking in agriculture supply chains," Dollarhide said. "If the information is not easy to use, they may resort to their biases and teach from personal beliefs and values."

Dollarhide calls modern beef production a perfect case study.

"It is something most everyone has experience purchasing, but has limited understanding of the impacts of their decisions as it relates to people, the environment and profitability," she said.

"There is a need to broaden the sustainability education agenda to examine the value of learning, as well as how it is taught and why," she said. "Our idea is that we would provide a framework. It is not just education about beef, but education about sustainability in a variety of different areas."

Sustainability requires reaching beyond one's discipline and teaching without the requisite foundational knowledge and fact-based information from other disciplines and industry segments. This may lead to a knowledge deficit and misinformed students. The larger grant seeks to provide information and training to these multidiscipline educators to help bridge the gap.

"One of the real advantages of this group is the variety of expertise," White said. "We are bringing together knowledge from several different areas of beef production, sustainability and undergraduate education to create a system for providing a holistic view of sustainability education."

"We want to give these educators a place to go for the facts," Dollarhide said.

The BCI hosted experts from the U.S. Roundtable for Sustainable Beef and the Noble Research Institute earlier this year in Manhattan for a planning session.

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