How will we empower our communities? How will we advance human health beyond disease? And how will we engineer a future economy built on cutting-edge technologies and ideas?
As part of its Strategic Plan, the University of Louisville will throw its research and scholarship weight behind solving these Grand Challenges — some of the biggest, global problems of our time.
President Neeli Bendapudi appointed a Grand Challenges subcommittee in late 2019 to identify these areas, ones where UofL could become a national leader while making a dramatic impact on problems facing society.
The committee sought input from the campus community through an online form, direct outreach and meetings with various faculty, staff and students. From hundreds of submitted ideas, they whittled it down to three broad Grand Challenges themes:
- Empowering our communities;
- Advancing our health; and
- Engineering our future economy.
A video explaining these challenges and form to provide additional feedback are available here.
“Our researchers and faculty can help the world make headway in these areas,” said Kevyn Merten associate vice president for research and innovation and subcommittee co-chair. “We can play a big role in solving these problems and shaping our world for years to come.”
These challenges were chosen because they are broad enough to offer countless lines of inquiry; build on UofL’s strong existing expertise and infrastructure; differentiate the UofL as a leader in global innovation and change; and can be positively influenced through multidisciplinary solutions.
For example, subcommittee co-chair Ted Smith “empowering our communities” might look like the research project from the J.B. Speed School of Engineering that uses robots and artificial intelligence to help kids with autism learn social skills they need to succeed in the classroom, or the School of Public Health and Information Sciences’ Youth Violence Prevention Research Center.
“Advancing our health” might look like the Christina Lee Brown Envirome Institute’s Green Heart Project, which is planting trees around Louisville to understand how greenness impacts heart disease.
And “engineering our future economy” might look like yet another project through the College of Education and Human Development, that uses software to help companies keep employees engaged.
“There’s really something here for everyone,” said Smith, an associate professor of pharmacology and toxicology. “Each and every discipline plays a key role in exploring and advancing these challenges.”
But, he added, the Grand Challenges subcommittee needs the help of campus to strengthen these challenges. They are asking faculty, staff and students to submit feedback on these three challenges, including ideas for lines of inquiry and how to move them forward. To submit your feedback, see the subcommittee’s webpage.