As an outcome of the ideas generated at the Priority Theme workshops, CALS will pursue three strategic initiatives:
Microbiome Working Group
CALS offers a unique strength in this area because of our expansive take on the microbiome—from soils, plants and animals to human health, food systems, ecological processes and biotechnological applications—and how these areas are interrelated and impact each other. This working group will take a big picture look at the broad topic to identify the knowledge gaps, problems and current tools/solutions. The goal is to move beyond describing microbiome communities, to understanding how communities function and interact. The group is being chaired by Garret Suen, Bacteriology, and is comprised of Alan Attie, Biochemistry; Randy Jackson, Agronomy; William Karasov, Forest and Wildlife Ecology; William Hickey, Soil Sciences; Jeri Barak, Plant Pathology and Pamela Ruegg, Dairy Sciences.
Food Systems Course Development
CALS has chosen to fund three new food system course proposals, including one introductory, one intermediate-level and one capstone course. It is our hope that these courses will complement one another and combine with other courses currently being offered to serve as the core to a curriculum in food systems. The three proposals are:
A course on Food Policy being developed by Monica Theis and Steve Ventura. This course will intentionally explore social, economic and ethical trends in the context of food policy and politics.
Foundations of Agroecology course being developed by Randy Jackson, Michael Bell and Claudio Gratton. This course will analyze tradeoffs of different agricultural production and food systems embedded within the greater complexity of socio-ecological systems.
A capstone course on Food Systems, Sustainability, Climate Change Health and Wellness being developed by Michel Wattiaux, Erin Silva, Alfonso Morales and Kathryn Anderson will delve into aspects of agricultural, biological, social and human underpinning in the assessment of food systems as related to sustainability.
Ecosystems Working Group
There is already much work going on in the college related to ecosystems, this group is in the early phase of identifying what unique role the college can play this area. Building the tools and expertise to combine, analyze and interpret the massive data sets collected through ecosystems research seems to be a key concept for the future.