Grand Challenges Research Initiative Phase 2

UMN collage research and people

In Phase 2 of the Provost's Grand Challenges Research Initiative, faculty across the Twin Cities campus were invited in early 2017 to apply for two opportunities to seed and foster projects consistent with the vision of a more integrative, engaged campus collaboratively addressing critical societal challenges. This built on Phase 1, which concluded in fall 2016 with Driving Tomorrow research investments totaling $3.6 million in support to 29 teams of faculty. Phase 2, announced in fall 2017, culminated in $2.96 million in interdisciplinary team awards as well as support for newly established Grand Challenges Research Scholar Collaboratives. Click here for information about Phase 3

The following is background information on the Phase 2 opportunities.

Faculty are invited to participate in two research opportunities that will continue to distinguish University of Minnesota scholars as leaders in addressing the critical challenges of our state, nation, and world.

Phase 2 of the Provost’s Grand Challenge Research Initiative includes both a competitive call for proposals from interdisciplinary teams deadline March 20) and a call for nominations for participation in a Grand Challenges Research Scholar collaborative for an extended period of interdisciplinary engagement (deadline March 1).

The GC Research—Phase 2 process engages the Twin Cities campus community through two tracks that are distinct from the two-tiered grants process launched in Phase 1 of the Provost’s Grand Challenges Research Initiative. The opportunities for 2017–18 are:

  • Grand Challenges Research Proposal: A competitive process for interdisciplinary teams, focused on a smaller number of larger awards—up to $600,000 per award—but with opportunities for smaller awards as well. An enhanced award opportunity is offered by the Institute on the Environment. Pre-proposals are due March 20, 2017, with invitations for full proposals extended in May.

  • Grand Challenges Research Scholar Collaborative: A call for nominations, including self-nominations, to participate in a research collaborative for an extended period--a concentrated investment of time with an interdisciplinary cohort that will provide an opportunity to explore new research directions and strategies and develop a collaborative plan of action for exciting major initiatives focused on one of the spotlighted Grand Challenges (or their intersection). Nominations and applications are due March 1, 2017.

The opportunities in 2017–18 will focus on the challenges of Assuring Clean Water and Sustainable Ecosystems or Fostering Just and Equitable Communities—or an integration of the two. These challenges are two of the five interrelated Grand Challenges areas identified as priorities through a campus-wide process last year to advance the research goals of Driving Tomorrow.

Future years will spotlight the other three Grand Challenges where we have identified exceptional strengths and can build on the expertise of our faculty: Advancing Health through Tailored Solutions, Enhancing Individual and Community Capacity for a Changing World, and Feeding the World Sustainably.  

The research initiatives will be advanced through partnerships with colleges and deans, as well as the Institute for Advanced Study, the Institute on the Environment, and the Interdisciplinary Center for the Study of Global Change. Other key partners will include the Global Programs and Strategy Alliance and the Office for Public Engagement, as well as the Office of the Vice President for Research and the Office of the Vice President for Health Sciences.

The two opportunities have been shaped through extensive campus-wide consultation. They follow an initial phase that engaged faculty in a two-tiered research grants initiative, culminating in initial research investments totaling $3.6 million. Announced in September 2016, the investments included grants to 29 teams of faculty from across the Twin Cities campus. More on Grand Challenges Research—Phase 1.

These initiatives will help to identify exciting opportunities to expand and integrate research across disciplines and colleges, enhance creative interdisciplinary approaches, and strengthen productive research collaborations within and beyond the University. All of this builds on a multi-stage campuswide GC Research process, organized and led by the Provost's Grand Challenges Research Strategies Team, to advance the research goals of Driving Tomorrow--one element of implementation of the 10-year stratregic plan that was developed through a campuswide effort in 2014.

Phase 2 detailed guidelines and FAQs: See sidebar on this page.