Iowa State's Global Resource Systems Major First in the Nation

AMES, Iowa "“ Imagine tailoring your college career to become an expert in a technical field and a specific region of the world. That's what students in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences will do beginning in August 2009. "It's an interdisciplinary major that allows students to pick an international region, language and an area of expertise to pursue throughout their college career," said Gail Nonnecke, faculty coordinator of the Global Resource Systems (GRS) major. David Acker, associate dean of academic and global programs, said Iowa State is the first university in the nation to offer an undergraduate program that allows students to combine these elements into a coherent resource oriented program. "Solving complex resource problems on a global scale requires a wide range of knowledge, skills and technical expertise," Acker said. "This interdisciplinary major gives students the flexibility to adapt the program to their interests and it lets them take charge of their education." Nonnecke, a university professor in horticulture, said the major will attract students who are interested in addressing the issues of hunger and poverty in developing nations and students who want to work for companies with global connections. Students can choose any region of the world and study issues in both industrialized and developing nations. "We are proud of all our programs that provide an international perspective to students but this one provides a deep understanding of another culture," Nonnecke said. "It's also a wonderful opportunity for Iowa businesses who need graduates who understand the culture, the issues and can speak the language in a specific region of the world. " Sam Bird, a freshman from Ames, came to Iowa State specifically to pursue the GRS major. "I knew travel was something I wanted in my college experience and the GRS major offers a variety of study abroad opportunities," Bird said. "I would like to work for a non-governmental organization and focus on international development through economic policy and this experience will prepare me for that." Nate Looker, a freshman from Des Moines, plans to study the ethics and theories of international development and work for an international organization. He was considering other colleges with programs in international development before he learned about the GRS major. "GRS offers international training and scientific expertise. It also provides opportunities that will prepare me for graduate school," Looker said. The GRS major was approved by the Board of Regents, State of Iowa in July 2008. Acker said the new major offers an interdisciplinary and systemic approach to understanding complex global resource systems. Those systems include natural resources, agricultural resources (including crops, livestock and aquaculture), human resources, institutional resources, physical and biological resources, food and energy resources, knowledge resources and financial resources. The College of Agriculture and Life Sciences began promoting the new major in November with online ads on The Economist web page; a print ad is scheduled for the Dec. 20th issue. The publication provides global analysis of business and current affairs as well as insights and opinions on international news, world politics, business, finance, science and technology.