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Development and Implementation of a Graduate Certification of Completion Program in Food Protection and Defense

Award No.: 
Principal Investigator: 
Abbey Nutsch
PI Organization: 
Kansas State University
The objective of this project is to establish and implement an NCFPD multi-institutional, interdisciplinary graduate education program in food protection and defense. This Graduate Education Program will include a graduate certificate of completion in food protection and defense that leverages graduate-level courses already available from various institutions nationwide. The core competencies will be defined and the curriculum developed by leveraging work lead by Purdue University, Indiana University, and Kansas State University through a USDA NIFSI-funded project to obtain input from stakeholders working in food protection and defense in industry, academia, and government. The program will also leverage a structure developed through a Higher Education Challenge Grant to offer a multi-institutional graduate certificate in food safety and defense which allows students to select a home institution and take courses at multiple universities under a common per-credit fee structure. The NCFPD Graduate Education program will provide a framework to 1) leverage course offerings from a large number of institutions, 2) accommodate a variety of course formats, including traditional classroom courses, online/distance education courses, short courses, on-site summer institute courses, and workshops, 3) make coursework accessible to students anywhere, 4) flexibly meet the needs of individual students, and 5) plan for and embrace change as the needs of food defense professionals evolve. The Graduate Education Program will be available to a wide variety of students, with special effort to involve those at Minority-Serving Institutions (MSIs). NCFPD will also make a concerted effort to involve faculty at MSIs and other COEs who have developed relevant course offerings. This program, which could complement a broad range of degree programs across partner institutions, will be inherently interdisciplinary, spanning food safety, food science, public health, food and agriculture systems, emergency management, animal health, communications, engineering, epidemiology, and many others. This Graduate Education Program, as an initiative of NCFPD's Education Theme, will continue to be closely aligned with those of the Center's Research Theme groups in order to maximize the educational impact of the research outcomes. The graduate education program can serve as a conduit for integrating research and education by incorporating educational aspects from the NCFPD Research Theme groups. For example, newly developed approaches to risk and crisis communication can be incorporated into appropriate courses within the Graduate Education Program, as will information on agent detection and supply chain security. Interfacing the Education and Research Theme groups will allow the Center to address, in an interdisciplinary manner, the economic, infrastructure, and public health consequences of intentional contamination of the food supply. In implementing this program NCFPD will leverage existing and, where appropriate, seek to establish new relationships with federal agencies (i.e., FDA & USDA), Minority Serving Institutions, other COEs (e.g., FAZD, NCBSI, and START), and federal laboratories. This project addresses the collective goal of the NCFPD's overall Education and Outreach Program, which is to provide food defense education and training for the next generation of homeland security science, technology, engineering, and math (HS-STEM) professionals, ncluding students, governmental and private sector audiences, etc. who will be instrumental in protecting the national economy and the public's health against the potentially devastating impacts of accidental or intentional contamination of the food supp
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