For the past 10 years, Laurie Thorp and Dale Rozeboom have informally engaged students in raising pigs at the MSU Student Organic Farm. This has provided students who come from vastly different disciplinary training (Environmental Studies v. Animal Science) and often backgrounds (rural v. suburban/urban) a common experience for “wicked problems” learning. In FS2019 they wrapped a course around the farm farrowing experience. The following learning outcomes were articulated: boundary-crossing, systems thinking, problem-solving, and ethical decision making. The students were responsible for the care and management of two bred sows and their litters. They were also given the opportunity to follow the sows to slaughter and eventually sell and cook the pork. Students were purposefully recruited into the course from 3 colleges and over 10 majors in order to seed interdisciplinary thinking and learning. The student feedback they received about the course was overwhelmingly positive as one of the most transformational experiences of their college career.
As a result, Laurie Thorp and Dale Rozeboom would like to use the Hub Faculty Fellow experience to unpack the course and past years of facilitating learning with the “pig project” to develop a set of best practices for dissemination to a broader audience. They anticipate the fellowship will enable them to more clearly refine a set of pedagogical practices that will translate to multiple settings for the development of boundary-crossing skills when managing wicked problems.