The overall goal of this certificate is to prepare graduate students to become innovators at the nexus of food, energy and water systems. To this end, the certificate will 1) impart both conceptual and technical knowledge related to the food, energy and water nexus to students; 2) provide them with training on key transferrable skills; and 3) equip them to consider the societal, cultural, behavioral and economic aspects of research on the food, energy and water nexus.
The starting point of the certificate is a multi-departmental and interdisciplinary 3 credit hour course on INFEWS. This course comprises four one-month “units”, each focused on a research question related to INFEWS requiring extensive interdisciplinary collaboration to be answered. Teams of faculty, possessing the necessary cumulative expertise, co-teach each unit, emphasizing concepts that students must understand in order to address the question at hand.
Given that in addition to technical or “hard” skills, recent graduates need – but very often lack – “soft” skills, including communication, leadership and teamwork skills, in a subsequent semester students will receive training on key transferrable skills in a 3 credit hour course designed to integrate these skills with content covered in the foregoing INFEWS course. This seminar course will train participants in key skills, including ethics, research, communication, teaching, funding procurement, entrepreneurship, management, teamwork, conflict resolution, mentoring, leadership, and outreach.
Completing the courses described above will give students 6 of the 12 credit hours needed to attain the INFEWS certificate. Students will earn the other 6 credits by choosing from a list of elective courses, favoring courses fulfilling both certificate and degree requirements so their anticipated time-to-degree is not extended. Notably, several of these courses will equip students to consider the societal, cultural, behavioral and economic aspects of research on the food, energy and water nexus.
INFEWS Certificate Curriculum (all courses provide 3 of the 12 credit hours required)
Among the issues facing humankind, providing adequate amounts of food to a growing population, developing CO2-neutral sustainable sources of energy, and managing water resources represent three key challenges. This course will provide the background for understanding these issues – especially as applied to the Appalachian region – through lectures and a literature-based research project to be performed by student teams.
In this course, students will receive training on key transferable skills, this training being integrated with the content covered in the foregoing INFEWS course. Specifically, this course will train participants in key skills needed by STEM professionals, including ethics, research, communication, teaching, funding procurement, entrepreneurship, management, teamwork, conflict resolution, mentoring, leadership, and outreach.
The use of microorganisms in the preservation of raw foods and the manufacture of new foods. Manipulation and improvement of cultures to ensure production of desirable end products.
Overview of technologies used for generating electricity from location, recovery, transportation and storage of fuel to the types of technologies used to convert the fuel to electricity. Included is a discussion of the advantages and disadvantages of each technology and how they must adapt to be viable in the future. Technologies covered include coal, natural gas, nuclear, biomass, wind, solar and advanced technologies.
Principles of surface water quality modeling and control. Analysis of dispersion, advection, natural aeration, biological oxidation and photosynthesis; their effects on the physical, chemical, and biological quality of waters in streams, lakes, reservoirs, estuaries and other surface waters.
This course introduces students to the science and engineering of converting biorenewable resources into bioenergy and biobased products. Topics include: Defining the resource base; physical and chemical properties of biorenewable resources; description of biobased products; methods of production for biorenewable resources.
This course explores the history and current status of biofuels and bioproducts development, the policy drivers and stakeholders, current industrial players, mainstream processing technologies, and current and future research themes. Expanding the technical aspects, this course will cover biochemical conversion techniques for producing bioethanol, biobutanol, biodiesel, biogas, and other advanced biofuels/ bioproducts and thermochemical conversion techniques towards syngas, bio-oil, and biochar.
Introduction to thermal and catalytic processes for the conversion of biomass to biofuels and other biobased products. Topics include gasification, fast pyrolysis, hydrothermal processing, syngas to synfuels, and bio-oil upgrading.
This course provides an overview of the scientific principles and management strategies used to effectively manage the physical, chemical, biological and social resources within a watershed so as to improve and sustain the integrity of the watershed system. The course will examine watershed management from both a scientific/engineering perspective as well as from a social science/ policy perspective. Examples of effective watershed management will be drawn from cases studies in Kentucky and the United States. Students will be provided with an introduction to those spatial data sets, computer software, and methods currently used in watershed management practice.
This course surveys a variety of current public policies that influence the agricultural and rural economies. Students are exposed to the conflicting views of those concerned with food and agricultural policy issues in an international economy. Economic principles are used to evaluate alternatives in terms of the general welfare of society.
The course develops the capacity to employ the theories, practices and philosophies of economic development as applied to local areas. The primary geographic focus of the course is the rural south-east of the United States, but examples will be drawn from rural areas in other developed countries.
This is an advanced level course focused on economic analysis. It will help students frame natural resource and environmental problems so that they can be analyzed and solved. Major topic areas include water resources, fisheries, energy (and other non-renewable resources), agriculture, and pollution. Policy instruments such as pricing, emission fees, and tradable permits will be covered in detail.
Economic analysis of natural resource use and environmental issues. Discussion of criteria for public decision making, welfare economics, market failure, benefit-cost analysis, and benefit estimation, as applied to natural resources and the environment.
A sociological study of selected social issues facing Appalachian communities, with an emphasis on placing regional political economy, society and culture in a global context.
Appalachia has always had strong global connections, environmentally, economically, and culturally. Current cultural and political economic issues in the region will be examined in comparative perspective through studying related histories and concerns of communities in Appalachia and other mountain regions, including social and economic marginalization within nation-states, resource extraction, low- wage work, migration, and environmental challenges. Students will have the opportunity to communicate directly with residents and scholars of several different global mountain regions, to consider sustainable livelihoods, identity in relationship to place, and social movements.
This graduate seminar explores food as fundamental to human existence in a variety of ways. We eat to maintain life – and the nutritional characteristics of human diets shape the development and health of individuals and populations. But, for the most part, humans do not eat nutrients, humans eat food, and food consumption and production is an intensely cultural, social and political activity. We will explore food and nutrition from all these perspectives. In addition to theorizing food and nutrition, we will become familiar with the methods most often used by national and global scholars and practitioners for assessing dietary and nutritional status of individuals and populations.
This seminar explores the interrelationships between social processes, development and the environment. It provides the graduate student with the necessary theoretical and analytical tools to examine the social and cultural processes of environmental degradation and change. Topics include political ecology, health impacts of development, deforestation, resource tenure systems, environmental grassroots movements and large-scale development organizations.
In this course, applications of humanitarian and sustainable engineering solutions and technology are studied and concepts of sustainable development are covered. Topics are drawn from several areas of engineering, including water supply, water treatment, water storage, wastewater treatment, materials, solid waste management, construction, and watersheds. Students taking this course will: 1) understand and apply engineering fundamentals and appropriate technology in design, construction, operation, and maintenance of engineering projects that serve people living in the developing world and smaller communities in the U.S.; 2) learn how community-based engineering projects fit into larger, global issues of sustainable development; 3) develop an understanding of the important inter-relationship of public health and engineering; and 4) incorporate environmental, societal, and economic considerations and community participation into engineering practice.
This course focuses on the application of quantitative sustainable design to engineering infrastructure and technologies. Quantitative sustainable design is a process of mechanistically linking design and operational decisions to sustainability indicators to inform decision-making. This process enables navigation of trade-offs across dimensions of sustainability (e.g., environmental, economic, social) so that design and operation can be informed by sustainability metrics. This course will focus specifically on environmental and economic impacts by using two tools – life cycle assessment (LCA) and life cycle costing (LCC) – along with uncertainty and sensitivity analyses. The main component of this course will be a design project in which students apply this process to inform the design and operation of an engineering infrastructure system or technology of interest.