Food, energy, and water are the three resources that are vital to nearly every process in the world. How people use these resources have long term effects on the world such as food security, water shortage, and greenhouse gas emissions. Learning how to quantify and use food, energy, and water efficiently is key to creating a sustainable life on Earth. The corn-water-ethanol-beef (CWEB) system is specifically significant to the economy of the Midwest United States. In this system, corn is grown on farms which can be sent to feed beef cattle or be processed in an ethanol plant to create ethanol for energy. This paper will present the first phase of an interdisciplinary project to develop an educational immersive simulation game to enhance understanding of the complex interactions of the CWEB system nexus and how it impacts global sustainability measures. The audience of this game will be K-12 and collegiate undergrad students. Users will play as either a corn farmer, beef rancher, feedlot manager, or an ethanol plant manager in this multiplayer game. Decisions of player will impact overall system sustainability. Even though players are competing with each other, the overall goal is to be able to create a sustainable world in the year 2050. Users will learn not only the complexities of each agricultural system, but will also learn best management practices to increase sustainability. The game will be put together by developing simplified integrated models using existing research data and models on corn, ethanol, and beef systems. The integrated models will also help determine knowledge gaps in this system for future research. Validation will be done by coupling it with historical data and comparing with past events such as droughts. Game theory will be implemented to design the social, economic, and environmental aspects of the model. Once a preliminary model is finished, it can be used to develop the simulation game framework. We expect this immersive simulation game to be a transformative educational tool to enhance systems thinking capabilities and increased understanding of the food, energy, and water nexus.
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