Research board

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The Department of Agricultural Leadership, Education and Communication works closely with the University of Nebraska-Lincoln's Agricultural Research Division to bring expertise from social science disciplines to enhancing the lives of Nebraskans everywhere. ALEC faculty and staff seek to provide leadership in developing teachers, leaders, and communicators for the next generation. Faculty do this specifically in the following areas:

Formal Research Projects

Five year approved projects:

Catalysts for Water Resources Protection and Restoration: Applied Social Science Research  Dr. Gina Matkin 

Project Description:

The goal of the research conducted at Nebraska is to expand existing research to complement and contribute to the USDA multistate project, NC1190 - Catalysts for Water Resources Protection and Restoration: Applied Social Science Research, by filling the gap in the knowledge base of social-human interactions with natural resources identified above. The overarching research question is: What are the key catalysts that interact with social and ecological conditions to create change in conservation behaviors, resource management, and governance within a water context?

  1. How are key catalysts for change in conservation behavior, resource management, and governance translated into individual, collective, and institutional action?
  2. How are catalysts influenced by socio-economic, institutional, and ecological conditions?
  3. What types of outcomes emerge from various types of catalysts?
  4. What are the various institutional roles in addressing these processes?

Dr. Matkin's participation in this project is primarily around the Nebraska Water Leaders Academy.

The overall research objective is to test the effectiveness of the Nebraska Water Leaders Academy in "catalyzing change" in participants to become civically engaged in the area of water policy. Specifically, the following hypotheses will be tested:


H1a: Participation in the Nebraska Water Leaders Academy will result in a significant increase in participants' civic engagement from the leaders' perspective.
H1b: Participation in the Nebraska Water Leaders Academy will result in a significant increase in participants' civic engagement from the raters' perspective.

Sustaining Small Family Farms in Rural Areas Through Agri-tourism: Determinants of Entrepreneurial Characteristics of Small Family Farms Dr. Myunghwa Kang


  • Determine the specific issues that are most relevant for students and the field in ANRE.
  • Determine the relationship between students' levels of cultural competence (using the Intercultural Development Inventory) and their abilities to conceptualize and communicate perspectives (using content analysis from online content).
  • Develop and implement curriculum around relevant ANRE issues that is delivered and assessed using social and digital media technologies.
  • Assess changes in student cultural competence (quantitative) and abilities to conceptualize and communicate perspectives (qualitative).
  • Utilize findings from both quantitative and qualitative aspects of this project to develop an assessment for cultural competence that focuses on issues and experiences relevant to ANRE.
  • Utilize findings from the qualitative aspect of this project to develop a protocol for assessing student "voice" and abilities to articulate issues from multiple perspectives.

Research Areas of Expertise in ALEC
FacultyTitleExpertise in ALEC
Mark Balschweid ALEC Department Head / Professor
  • Curriculum development
  • International program development
  • Extension program planning
  • Teacher development
Nathan Conner Associate Professor
  • Teaching methodology
  • Science literacy
  • Globalization of school based agricultural education
  • Teacher preparation
Lindsay Hastings Clifton Professor in Mentoring Research, NHRI Leadership Mentoring Research Director
  • Strengths-based leadership development (youth and adults)
  • Development and delivery of leadership mentoring programs
  • Assessment and evaluation of generativity in leadership contexts
  • Implementation, assessment and evaluation of youth engagement in community development
Myunghwa (Michelle) Kang Associate Professor
  • Hospitality and tourism marketing
  • Use of information technology and social media for marketing
  • Destination marketing and promotion
  • Tourism development and entrepreneurship
Eric Knoll Associate Professor of Practice Skilled and technical sciences in teacher education
Matt Kreifels Associate Professor of Practice
  • Teaching and learning
  • Beginning teacher induction
  • Supervised Agricultural Experience and Work-based Learning
Gina Matkin Professor
  • Leadership education/development
  • Leadership theory
  • Developing culturally competent and inclusive leaders
  • Creating and supporting inclusive classrooms, communities, and work spaces
  • Cultural Competence Assessment using the Intercultural Development Inventory
  • Qualitative Research Methods in Leadership
  • Graduate student advising/education and development
L.J. McElravy

Associate Dean of Graduate Studies;

Associate Professor

  • Youth leadership and civic engagement/service-learning
  • Leadership assessment and measurement
  • Positive psychology and leadership development
  • Team-based problem solving fostering creativity and innovation
Taylor Ruth

Assistant Professor

  • Public Opinion Formation Related to Agricultural and Environmental Sciences
  • Consumers' Information Processing and Decision-Making Related to Issues in Agricultural and Environmental Sciences
  • Development and Effects of Echo Chambers in Science Communication