Focus Areas

CALS has multiple academic focuses in the biological, natural and social sciences to respond to the challenges we all face. These focus areas are independent of specific administrative units and are carried out at units on main campus as well as in county Extension offices and on state-wide Experiment Station Units. Each administrative unit participates disproportionately in multiple focus areas.  The relative effort in each area will vary over time depending on available opportunities and society’s needs.

Environment, Energy and Natural Resources

Concerns the issues related to protection, enhancement and sustainable use of our basic environmental resources.  These are soil, air, and water and the conservation, management and use of natural resources (wildlife, fisheries, rangelands, forests, watersheds, and flora and fauna ecosystems).  Sustainable use of resources and the environment requires attention to public policy and an understanding of human factors as well as resource assessment, monitoring and management. 

Plant, Insect, and Microbe Systems

Addresses the production and biology of plants used for food, fiber, livestock feed, industrial products, and for environmental and aesthetic purposes.  Optimal and sustained productivity is based on understanding plants from the molecular to ecosystem levels and implementing best management practices, including integrated pest management for insects, weeds, and pathogens.

Health and Food Safety

Focuses on the relationships of the life sciences to human health promotion, disease prevention and food safety.  Programs use interdisciplinary approaches to discovering, translating, and applying how nutrition and physical activity can prevent disease and promote good health and well-being.  The safety and quality of food for human consumption includes transportation, processing and consumer handling.  Overall, approaches range from basic cellular and molecular research to clinical human research studies and educational programs.

Families and Communities

Focuses on economic, social, psychological and biological factors affecting individuals, families, and groups over their lifespan.  Topics include effective parenting, violence prevention, resource management, responsible decision-making, economic well-being of families and consumers in the marketplace, leadership skill building, and reduced exposure of children to toxins via integrated pest management in schools.

Animal Systems

Encompasses contemporary methods of biology to improve productivity and increase the quality, composition, safety, and desirability of animal products; promotes the use of integrated and long-term sustainable production systems that are compatible with arid environments; enhances genetic diversity and biological performance; and improves the health and well-being of food and companion animals.


Including consumers, marketplace, trade, and economics, this area deals with supply-chain management and retailing processes from the perspective of both the consumer and the business organization, global and national trade activities, and economic analyses of food and fiber as well as natural resources (including water, land, and the environment).  It also contains the economic analysis and resource allocation processes of businesses, governments, and consumers and strategic analysis of the environments in which market participants operate. 

Resource Allocation

We must be extremely specific about how we allocate resources.  This will be based on being exceptional, and thus impactful, at generating new knowledge, new people and contributing to the new economy.  We will focus on where we are genuinely unique, valuable and outstanding and thus a critical hub for the nation’s network of universities.  We will also allocate resources consistent with the needs and directions of the U. Arizona as a whole.  The following guiding principles will help in decision making when allocating resources:

  1. Relevance to this CALS, and thus UA, strategic plans.
  2. Significance and impacts to Arizona and the world.
  3. Potential for increasing our efficiency, effectiveness and innovation.
  4. Existing strengths, weaknesses, capacity, and critical mass of unit or program and college.
  5. Ability to leverage state investment to develop new funding from outside of the state-funding system.


Continue to -- CALS Strategic Planning: At the coal face.