History

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?

Blue Bell Lecture Series
Blue Bell Halfmoon Color-300[1]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
Visiting scholar
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

Texas A&M AgriLife Conference
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

Faculty-led White Paper Development
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

Chair – Dr. Chris Skaggs

  • Dr. Clinton Allred -Nutrition and Food Science
  • Dr. David Caldwell – Poultry Science
  • Dr. Elena Castell-Perez – Biological and Agricultural Engineering
  • Dr. Rhonda Miller – Animal Science
  •  Dr. Elsa Murano – Nutrition and Food Science
  •  Dr. Wayne Smith – Soil and Crop Science

Protecting Our Environment – Download the white paper

Chair – Dr. David Reed

  • Dr. Jacqui Aitkenhead-Peterson – Soil and Crop Science
  • Dr. Spencer Behmer – Entomology
  • Dr. Tom Lacher – Wildlife and Fisheries Sciences
  • Dr. Clyde Munster – Biological and Agricultural Engineering
  • Dr. Strid Volder – Horticultural Sciences
  • Dr. Rich Woodward – Agricultural Economics
  • Dr. Joshua Yuan – Plant Pathology and Microbiology

Improving Our Health – Download the white paper

Chair – Dr. Kim Dooley

  • Dr. Fuller Blazer – Animal Science
  • Ms. Karen Beathard – Nutrition and Food Science
  • Dr. Elena Castell-Perez – Biological and Agricultural Engineering
  • Dr. Bhimanagouda Patil – Horticultural Sciences
  • Dr. David Scott – Recreation Parks and Tourism Sciences
  • Dr. Rosemary Waizem – Poultry Science

Enriching Our Youth – Download the white paper

Chair – Dr. Danielle Harris

  • Dr. Kevin Heinz – Entomology
  • Dr. Toby Lepley – Texas A&M AgriLife Extension
  • Dr. Corliss Outley – Recreation Parks and Tourism Sciences
  • Dr. Shawn Ramsey – Animal Sciences
  • Ms. Lisa Whittlesey – Horticultural Sciences
  • Dr. Gary Briers – Agricultural Leadership, Education, and Communications

Growing Our Economy – Download the white paper

Chair – Dr. Alan Sams

  • Dr. Cristine Alvarado – Poultry Science
  • Dr. Ronald Lacey – Biological and Agricultural Engineering
  • Dr. David Matarrita – Recreation Parks and Tourism Sciences
  • Dr. Ed Rister – Agricultural Economics
  • Dr. Gary W. Williams – Agricultural Economics
  • Dr. Jennifer Williams – Agricultural Leadership, Education, and Communications

Grand Challenge Town Hall
In May 2013, the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences hosted the Grand Challenges Town Hall 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.

Download Town Hall Program

2013 AgriLife Administrative Retreat
In June 2013, 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.

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