Students increasingly seek opportunities to engage with and learn about alternative proteins in school. However, very few courses exist that focus specifically on alternative proteins. If students come into contact with the concept of alternative protein at all during school, it’s typically in passing: during a lecture that mentions alternative proteins as a niche application of a skill (e.g. in a cell biology or materials science class) or as an example of a broader economic or environmental trend toward plant-based eating. Faculty who want to offer alternative protein courses must essentially design the curriculum from scratch as few courses and materials exist to draw upon. This can make building a new course prohibitively time-consuming for busy faculty. Meanwhile, there are also not enough web-based educational offerings on alternative proteins, and therefore insufficient “on-ramps” into the industry for students outside the traditional college path.
Aggregating and curating a publicly-accessible repository of materials derived from existing alternative protein courses will support faculty and instructors who might otherwise feel unable to commit the time required to build a course from scratch. Curriculum materials should include syllabi, slide decks, recommended readings, guest speaker suggestions, lab protocols and reagent lists, and assessments such as essay prompts and exam questions. Ideally, materials will be collected from instructors after they have evaluated the success of the course and refined their materials and content accordingly.
Publicly-available curricula will provide faculty with a sense that they are part of a broader educational trend, thus motivating instructors to continue building and offering their courses. The same publicly-available curricula will also be useful for students who do not plan to study alternative protein at a traditional university. Additionally, faculty and instructors should cultivate relationships with industry partners who could potentially provide guest lectures with career path insights, support in-class labs through contributions of reagents or equipment, and provide tours of local production facilities. Particular support should be given to BIPOC faculty and instructors who may have a smaller pre-existing alternative protein industry network.
With robust catalogs of courses across major universities, students will be able to build a deeper, stronger foundation of knowledge relevant to alternative protein. The industry will therefore have access to a larger, better-trained, and more easily identifiable talent pool to grow their teams. Universities with more alternative protein courses will be able to build full alternative protein certificate programs, eventually allowing institutions to develop reputations for alternative protein excellence. For students learning online, there will be more opportunities to develop skill sets relevant to the industry. We hope that this will create more “on-ramps” to the alternative protein industry for people who do not follow a conventional academic path. From the university perspective, these courses represent unique offerings for students increasingly interested in alternative protein curriculum, providing an advantage for universities looking to compete for certain students.
- Ricardo San Martin teaches a plant-based protein course at UC Berkeley.
- Tom Ben-Arye teaches an alternative protein overview course at Hebrew University.
- David Kaplan teaches a cultivated meat course at Tufts.
- GFI’s MOOC is a free, online alternative protein course.
- GFI’s course repository is underway.
Join the GFIdeas global community of 2,000+ entrepreneurs, scientists, investors, and subject matter experts. Discuss projects on the members-only Slack community, attend monthly seminars, and use the community directory to help you find collaborators working on similar Solutions!
Universities are epicenters for creative problem-solving and cutting-edge research advancements, and they can serve as engines for interdisciplinary innovation. However, this potential is not being tapped fully by the alternative…
Interdisciplinary research is essential for tackling many of the complex problems facing today’s world. Though the number of research projects advancing alternative protein science has increased in recent years, this…
To ensure a strong talent pipeline, there is a need to launch robust university programming, ranging from certificate programs to short multi-course modules, centered around alternative protein. Full majors would…
Explore the full solutions database
Browse 300+ startup ideas, commercial opportunities, research projects, and investment priorities throughout the alternative protein supply chain.
If you’d like to fund a research project, work on any of these solutions, share information about related efforts that are already underway, or elevate new ideas for advancing the alternative protein industry, we’d love to hear from you!