Campus Forums in October: Please Come to Discuss Grand Challenges Research Ideas

Monday, September 28, 2015

I hope these first weeks of the semester have been pleasant and productive. I know everyone is busy, but I’m writing to encourage you to attend some very important campus conversations scheduled for October.

As you may remember, the Grand Challenges Research Strategies Team, composed of and led by distinguished faculty, solicited ideas for “grand challenge” research priorities this University could fruitfully embrace. The Team received 130 submissions (with 350+ faculty identified as leads or co-leads). It grouped the submissions under some broad themes, and it has now planned campus forums to discuss, integrate, and enrich the ideas suggested by faculty in those submissions.

Five forums are planned, each of which will be structured to focus and develop one of the broad themes identified in the submissions. The goal is to cast prospective grand challenge projects in a clearer light and also to foster connections among researchers who have common interests but who may approach research topics from differing disciplinary perspectives.

The campus forums will include short presentations and table discussions. Those discussions will help the team shape recommendations to President Kaler and me for areas of Grand Challenges research strength where the University is well positioned to stake out a claim.

Another equally important aim of these forums is to stimulate conversations among researchers from across this large and complex university—to connect them—in order to enhance opportunities for those interested in interdisciplinary and integrative research.

View or download short summaries of the ideas submitted by faculty, grouped under the broad themes.

Please join me to contribute your ideas and viewpoints to any or all of the upcoming forums:

How will we ensure just and equitable societies?

Monday, Oct. 12, 10:30 a.m.–12 noon, Rec & Wellness Center, Room MP5 

How will we foster human potential and well-being across the life course in a diverse and changing world?

Tuesday, Oct. 13, 10– 11:30 a.m., Rec & Wellness Center, Room MP5

How will we advance human health?

Wednesday, Oct. 14, 8:30–10 a.m., Coffman Memorial Union—Campus Club, West Wing

How will we develop sustainable cities and resilient communities in a world of climate change?

Friday, Oct. 16, 8:30–10 a.m., Coffman Memorial Union—Campus Club, West Wing

How will we provide secure food, water, and energy today and for the future?

Thursday, Oct. 22, 9:30–11 a.m., Coffman Memorial Union, Mississippi Room

More information about the forums is here, including links to discussion questions (to be posted two days in advance of each forum). One last point: We know that many who might be interested in these forums will have schedule conflicts that preclude attendance. To address that issue, the committee plans to try to capture the key elements of the discussions and to post those on the Strategic Planning website. Alongside those notes will be an online form that members of our University community can use to send questions or comments to the committee.

Again, I hope you will attend these campus conversations—and if your schedule precludes attendance, please look for other ways to join the discussion.


Karen Hanson
Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost

This message, in modified format, was emailed by Provost Hanson to Twin Cities campus faculty, staff, and students Sept. 28, 2015.

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