Matthew Mars, assistant professor and director of graduate studies in the Department of Agricultural Education, College of Agriculture, Life and Environmental Sciences, was awarded a 2018 Innovation in Teaching Award by the Academic Programs Section of the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities.
Mars' award is for a project he is developing with Jeni Hart, associate vice chancellor for graduate studies, associate vice provost for advanced studies, and professor of higher education at the University of Missouri. Together, they will create a graduate-level course at their universities that will bring together agricultural education and higher education graduate students to learn entrepreneurial skills to improve the economic and social impact of land-grant institutions.
“We are planning the course now and will offer it in the spring 2019 semester through the Department of Agricultural Education’s Innovation Collaboratory,” Mars said. “The course design will be project-based, include graduate students in agricultural education, leadership, and innovation and higher education at both universities, and focus on the development of innovative strategies for addressing food insecurity among college student populations.”
Food insecurity refers to students who are going hungry because they can’t afford to buy enough food that is nutritious. The course will focus on entrepreneurial leadership in the agricultural and higher education contexts, with specific emphasis on how to prepare the next generation of land grant college and university professionals to lead social innovation on their campuses.
“In this regard, food insecurity among student populations who attend land grant colleges and universities will be the specific problem that the students will be focused on over the duration of the semester-long course,” Mars said. “They will be using the innovation and entrepreneurial leadership principles and strategies that they learn in the class to propose feasible solutions to student food insecurity.”
Awards were issued to five groups of faculty at universities around the U.S., and are "intended to bolster innovation in the post-secondary teaching of agriculture and related fields," according to the APLU. Mars and Hart will receive $3,000 to share on project-related needs.
Mars earned his doctorate from the UA in 2006 and worked at the McGuire Center for Entrepreneurship as an entrepreneurship and knowledge transfer specialist and later as a lecturer. He became an assistant professor in 2014.