Why Is a Small Liberal Arts University Becoming a Leader In Cannabis Education?

Doane University, a small liberal arts school located in rural Nebraska, has taken a leap forward to become an international innovator in cannabis education through its School of Integrative Learning. Last year, Doane University, under the leadership of its Director of Cannabis Studies Dr. Andrea Holmes, launched a Cannabis Certificate Program. The program, titled “The Cannabis Industry – Seeds to Needs,” offers three online certificate courses that cover all aspects of this fast-growing new field of opportunity — from cultivation, processing, testing, law, and regulations, to how to get a job or build a business in the emerging cannabis industry.

Dr. Holmes, Professor of Chemistry and Chief Growth Officer of Precision Plant Molecules (a premier hemp production facility focused on minor cannabinoids based in Colorado) and her colleagues created the courses because of the need for a qualified cannabis-industry workforce. To date, the courses have enrolled more than 13,000 registrants from 166 countries on DoaneX. The high volume of students demonstrates strong international interest and a pressing need for education by highly-qualified and credentialed experts in the cannabis field.

Now, Doane University has built on its pioneering role yet again, offering seven brand-new college courses — each worth three credits — that can be potentially transferred to any post-secondary institution in the world. These courses cover the history, biology, agronomy, medicinal aspects, testing, and processing methods of marijuana and hemp. Experienced Doane faculty, with PhDs in chemistry, biology, agricultural education, and history, along with physicians who are certified in cannabis medicine, have built these eight-week courses to provide a cutting-edge education in the field that is currently unparalleled in the U.S. and the world. Doane University is also seeking partnerships with other colleges and universities who are interested in the cannabis curriculum. The courses are built to be flexible in such a way that students from other universities can easily take them as part of their degree requirements or as electives.

Doane University won’t stop there, however, and is moving directly into cannabis-industry entrepreneurship! Doane University just opened the first commercial ISO-certified cannabis testing facility in Nebraska to support the state’s inaugural harvest by farmers and processors that are newly licensed under the 2020 Nebraska Hemp Bill. Doane University’s infrastructure and faculty are ideally suited for cannabis research, development, and testing. In fact, Doane University’s outside-the-box thinking has opened up new revenue-generating streams by providing rental space for start-up companies working in both the herbal supplement and cannabis industry. Doane’s students are benefiting from increased research and internship opportunities.

The question then arises, why has Doane University taken the initiative to attract students worldwide who want to study cannabis in its many varied, intriguing, and useful applications — from industrial products to medicine? While Nebraska has had a state-regulated hemp program since last year, medical marijuana is likely to appear on the ballot this November. Given the relatively conservative socio-political nature of the state, it is surprising that Doane’s program is in the vanguard of cannabis education. Dr. Holmes, however, is an internationally-recognized scholar and entrepreneur in the field.

The bottom line is that small liberal arts colleges and universities (even larger universities) in the U.S. and abroad are struggling with decreased student enrollment and retention. COVID-19 is negatively impacting the landscape of higher education. New innovative measures, changes in rigid traditional thinking, and a reset of higher education’s culture simply must occur in this era of survival of the fittest.

Doane University’s leadership has thus, out of both necessity and conviction, taken the road less traveled by investing in innovation and entrepreneurship in relation to cannabis education and the rapidly growing cannabis industry. This is an opportunity and investment that Doane University wholeheartedly believes will help the university maintain viability, support innovation, and increase its future relevance.

For more information about getting certified or take college courses in Cannabis Studies, click here: https://www.doane.edu/academics/division/cannabis-studies

For more information about confidential cannabis testing, click here: https://www.ctlcrete.com/

Note: This article was co-written by Dr. Mark Orsag, Professor of History at Doane University’s College of Professional Studies and College of Arts and Sciences.


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