Leadership SPRIG

Introduction & Background

Leadership in an era of rapid change is often cited as the critical element that distinguishes success from failure.  Technology and globalization are only two of a number of factors that are contributing to the increased rate and magnitude of change we are experiencing.   The National Academy of Sciences recently acknowledged that many of today’s major challenges – including energy security, national security, human health, and climate change – are closely tied to the global food and agricultural enterprise.  Academic institutions with agriculture programs  are in a perfect position to prepare the next generation of leaders and professionals to address these challenges (The National Academies, 2009).  The report concluded that issues of the 21st century will require a new level of collaboration and “will require knowledge and ability to communicate across disciplines and bring people together to explore solutions.” 

The Ohio State University and the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences have also cited the need for leadership to address issues of critical importance in our state, nation, and world.  The call for leadership to address three CFAES signature areas include:  Food Security, Production, & Human Health; Environmental Quality & Sustainability; and Advanced Bioenergy & Biobased Products as primary focal points of the current CFAES Strategic Plan (2009-2013).

Leadership was also identified as a high priority in the National Research Agenda: Agricultural Education and Communication, 2007-2010 (Osborne, n.d.).  The 2010 – 2014 Strategic Plan for our new department suggested a strategy to develop and advance disciplinary focus and impact through the use of self-populated research interest groups (SPRIGs).  The Leadership SPRIG will be supported by a self-selected team of faculty, staff, and students for the purpose of focusing disciplinary and interdisciplinary efforts on leadership research, outreach, and teaching activities that address issues of critical importance. 


Purpose and Mission

The Leadership SPRIG provides a mechanism to collaboratively identify priorities and strategically guide the department’s focus on leadership research, outreach, and teaching.  Such a focus will promote faculty engagement in interdisciplinary activities, particularly those that address College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences and university priorities.   

Other targeted outcomes of the Leadership SPRIG are increased recruitment of students interested in leadership as a field of study and increased external revenue generation.  

The Leadership SPRIG, being the first in the new department, will also serve as a model for the development of additional SPRIGs in the areas of teaching & learning, agricultural communication, and youth development.


  • Improve alignment of faculty research, outreach, and teaching to support the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences signature areas.
  • Extend faculty collaboration and partnerships on interdisciplinary research teams.
  • Increase faculty submissions and awards for externally funded grants.
  • Expand support for graduate students in the department.
  • Publish more peer-review journal articles authored by departmental faculty and graduate students.




Performance Measures   [metrics listed in brackets for each measure]


  • Grant proposals submitted and awarded   [# of proposals and # of awards]


  • Expenditures from externally funded grants   [dollars of OSURF expenditures]


  • F&A cost recovery   [dollars of F&A recovered]


  • Number of peer-reviewed journal articles   [number 0f manuscripts published]


  • Number of graduate associates supported on externally funded grants   [number of GAs]


  • Number of faculty participating on interdisciplinary signature area teams   [# of faculty involved]


Opportunities   [selected examples]


  • Development and integration of sustainable bioenergy instruction in secondary agricultural education programs.  (Themes include:  Bioenergy technology, STEM, experiential learning, safety, entrepreneurship, adoption/diffusion, leadership, community development, workforce development).
  • Role of Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) in Reducing the Incidence of Childhood Obesity.  (Themes include:  human nutrition, local foods, youth development, leadership, human health, health education).
  • USDA/NIFA National Needs Graduate Fellowship Grant to prepare Ph.D. graduates in Agricultural and Extension Education with interdisciplinary specializations in diversity and sustainability.  (Themes include:  STEM, leadership, bioenergy, environment, diversity, and sustainability)