The grand challenges are a faculty-led, faculty-driven initiative. Each of the challenges are interconnected and universal. No solitary discipline can solve them all, which is why a series of events were created to spark meaningful conversations across multiple disciplines. Through the help of the participants, these events helped to define the grand challenges. What are the issues? What areas of expertise or strength do we have? How do our strengths guide us? What problems might we encounter? What resources are needed? What are the steps to move forward?
The grand challenges are the culmination of the following year-long process:
- Blue Bell Lecture Series
- 2013 Texas A&M AgriLife Conference
- Faculty-led White Paper Development
- Grand Challenges Town Hall
To learn more about the grand challenges, how they were created, or to find out how to get involved, please contact the Dean’s Office.
In 2012, we celebrated the 150th anniversary of the Morrill Land-Grant Act, which led to the establishment of Texas A&M University. As we look forward, we want to ensure that the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences stays true to this land-grant mission while working to address problems that will face our society in the next 150 years.
Funded by a generous endowment from Blue Bell Creameries, the Blue Bell Lecture Series gave us an external perspective on what we do and how we can uniquely approach the grand challenges. Each lecture gave us context and encouraged discussion about how we will participate in the solution.
The following speakers participated in the Blue Bell Lecture Series:
Dr. John Pierce
BP Chief Bioscientist
Energy, Innovation and Sustainability
Oct. 22, 2012
Dr. Molly Jahn
University of Wisconsin Professor
Sustainability and Agriculture: A Report from the Front Lines
Nov. 12, 2012
Mr. Paul Schickler
President of DuPont Pioneer
What’s for Dinner? How the Next Generation will Feed the World
March 28, 2013
Dr. Belay E. Begashaw
Director of the Columbia University Global Center for Africa
Texas A&M and the United Nations: Sustainable Development Solutions Network
April 27, 2013
Dr. Robert L. Thompson
Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University
Global Food Policy and Trade
May 6, 2013
Mr. Pierre Ferrari
CEO of Heifer International
The World as an Opportunity to Serve
November 15, 2013
At the 2013 Texas A&M AgriLife conference, more than 100 attendees split up into small groups to discuss each of the grand challenges. Each group was asked to define the issues and brainstorm areas of strength and opportunity as well as any potential problems.
- Feeding Our World
Facilitator Chris Skaggs, Associate Dean
- Protecting Our Environment
Facilitator David Reed, Associate Dean
- Improving Our Health
Facilitator Kim Dooley, Associate Dean
- Enriching Our Youth
Facilitator Danielle Harris, Assistant Dean
- Growing Our Economy
Facilitator Alan Sams, Executive Associate Dean
During the spring of 2013, faculty groups drafted white paper plans for each of the grand challenges. We would like to thank each faculty member that participated in the writing of our white papers.
Feeding Our World – Download the white paper (MS Word)
Dr. Chris Skaggs – Chair; Dr. Clinton Allred – NFSC; Dr. David Caldwell – POSC; Dr. Elena Castell-Perez – BAEN; Dr. Rhonda Miller – ANSC; Dr. Elsa Murano – NFSC; Dr. Wayne Smith – SCSC
Protecting Our Environment – Download the white paper (MS Word)
Dr. David Reed – Chair; Dr. Jacqui Aitkenhead-Peterson – SCSC; Dr. Spencer Behmer – ENTO; Dr. Tom Lacher – WFSC; Dr. Clyde Munster – BAEN; Dr. Strid Volder – HORT; Dr. Rich Woodward – AGEC; Dr. Joshua Yuan – PLPM
Improving Our Health – Download the white paper (MS Word)
Dr. Kim Dooley – Chair; Dr. Fuller Blazer – ANSC; Ms. Karen Beathard – NFSC; Dr. Elena Castell-Perez – BAEN; Dr. Bhimanagouda Patil – HORT; Dr. David Scott – RPTS; Dr. Rosemary Waizem – POSC
Enriching Our Youth – Download the white paper (MS Word)
Dr. Danielle Harris – Chair; Dr. Gary Briers – ALEC; Dr. Kevin Heinz – ENTO; Dr. Toby Lepley – Extension; Dr. Corliss Outley – RPTS; Dr. Shawn Ramsey – ANSC; Ms. Lisa Whittlesey – HORT
Growing Our Economy – Download the white paper (MS Word)
Dr. Alan Sams – Chair; Dr. Cristine Alvarado – POSC; Dr. Ronald Lacey – BAEN; Dr. David Matarrita – RPTS; Dr. Ed Rister – AGEC; Dr. Gary W. Williams – AGEC; Dr. Jennifer Williams – ALEC
The College of Agriculture & Life Sciences hosted the Grand Challenges Town Hall in May to allow faculty and staff from across the college to engage in and contribute to the grand challenge discussions and future plans. The grand challenge white papers, drafted by faculty groups, were presented for the first time. Town hall attendees also participated in break-out groups to further discuss the grand challenges and focus areas highlighted in the the white papers.
2013 AgriLife Administrative Retreat
In June, administration from across Texas A&M AgriLife met in College Station for a first of its kind retreat. During the retreat, administrators addressed the grand challenges and their impact on Texas A&M AgriLife Extension and Texas A&M AgriLife Research.
Future discussions and questions
There are many ways we can approach the grand challenges – specifically, how do we underpin existing programs? What programs might be needed? Where should we focus funding? Are there strategic hires we should encourage? There are many questions like these and more that will take our ideas and discussions and put them into action. Each of these sessions will be facilitated by the Dean’s Office. To learn more about each of the grand challenges or to find out how to get involved, please contact the Dean’s Office.