Agriculture plus apocalypse equals Agpocalypse 2050, a video game intended to stimulate middle and high school students' interest in the food-energy-water nexus.
Developed by a multidisciplinary team at the University of Nebraska– Lincoln, Agpocalypse 2050 focuses on the projected global population increase of 9 billion people by 2050. That increase will require twice the amount of food the world currently produces. Players create sustainable agricultural systems to feed and fuel the world with limited resources under a changing climate. With each task, players have to analyze at the system level. The idea is that they will gain an understanding of the dynamics among corn, water, ethanol, beef — the major nexus found in Nebraska and the Midwest.
"This game allows us to comprehensively look at the nexus using real-world situations, but without the risk of actually implementing system changes," said Jeyam Subbiah, team leader and Kenneth E. Morrison Distinguished Professor of Food Engineering. The computational engine behind the game, which is science-based, integrates multiple state-of-the-art decision support models for crop growth, livestock and biofuels.
Jennifer Keshwani, assistant professor and science literacy specialist, is working with Omaha Bryan High School through the Urban Agricultural Career Academy to pilot the program.
Other team members: Mindy Anderson-Knott, director of evaluation and development, Social and Behavioral Sciences Research Consortium; Jiajia Chen, assistant professor, food science and technology; Bruce Dvorak, environmental engineering; Suat Irmak, Harold W. Eberhard Distinguished Professor, biological systems engineering; Deepak Keshwani, associate professor, biological systems engineering; Rick Koelsch, livestock and bioenvironmental engineer; David Rosenbaum, professor, economics; Eric Thompson, associate professor, economics; Brandy VanDeWalle, extension educator; and Haishun Yang, associate professor, agronomy and horticulture.
A three-year, $999,644 National Science Foundation grant funds this project.