Grand Challenges Research: Identifying Campus Priorities

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

During spring and summer 2015, Provost Hanson encouraged all Twin Cities faculty to contribute to a Call for Ideas developed by the Grand Challenges Research Strategies Team of 30 distinguished faculty members. This is one part of a broader plan for campus consultation on where the campus is best positioned for major impact. The ideas submitted would be the basis for focused campuswide discussions in early fall.

"Our Twin Cities campus has declared that it will be a place where research, teaching, and engagement integrate to bring solutions to society's complex problems. Which of those many problems should we collectively affirm to be our first target?" the provost wrote in an email to all Twin Cities faculty sent May 19.

Faculty were invited to submit a two-page description of ideas following a simple template. A first deadline was June 26; to encourage robust faculty participation, a second deadline was set for August 17 (submissions should be emailed to GCrsrch@umn.edu). 

"As your peers, we seek what only the faculty can provide—the innovative ideas that underpin the scholarly future of our institution," the research team writes in a cover letter accompanying the call.

"We need your best ideas for complex, multifaceted Grand Challenges, not discrete research project proposals. A Grand Challenge idea will capture areas of scholarship in which the University already has strength, in which it has the potential to have global impact and enhanced local relevance, and in which it also has potential to make a deeper connection with the land grant commitment to engaged teaching and learning and reciprocal partnerships in the public and private sectors."

The GC Research Strategies Team's recommendations will inform the selection, toward the end of the fall term, of 3-5 initial Grand Challenge priorities. The priorities to be selected will be in addition to the three existing areas of strength noted in the strategic plan.

The provost emphasized in her message to faculty that the campus will make a significant commitment to the Grand Challenges that are adopted as institutional priorities, with faculty helping to determine the direction and force of that commitment.

The provost's announcement to faculty and the Call for Ideas both are posted here.