Developing leaders to tackle wicked problems at the nexus of food, energy, and water systems

Alisa A. Wade, Amina Grant, Seigi Karasaki, Rachel Smoak, David Cwiertny, Andrew C. Wilcox, Laurie Yung, Kristin Sleeper, Aavudai Anandhi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


The multiscale, complex challenges at the nexus of food, energy, and water systems (FEWS) demand approaches to graduate education beyond traditional disciplinary training. Here, we present a vision for training FEWS leaders developed by faculty and students from interdisciplinary graduate training programs focused on the FEWS nexus. We discuss the imperative to create interdisciplinary, next-generation FEWS leaders and the core skills and proficiencies such leaders need: employ systems thinking, thrive in interdisciplinary teams, communicate effectively, and engage diverse stakeholders and communities. These skills will prepare students to connect science to innovative, actionable solutions and to successfully lead across a variety of careers. Graduate training that integrates these approaches must, on the one hand, overcome structural, cultural, and financial barriers in higher education, but on the other hand, will help develop a community of practice capable of developing sustainable solutions for the FEWS nexus and other vexing environmental challenges.

Original languageEnglish
Article number11
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2020


  • Co-production
  • Food-energy-water nexus
  • Graduate education
  • Science communication
  • Sustainability
  • Systems thinking


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