Thursday, 27 August 2020

Grand Challenges represent the most complex, multidisciplinary and important issues facing communities at local, regional and global levels. They do not lend themselves to easy resolution, but are areas where fresh thinking is needed and the combination of research applications and ‘students as future leaders’ will shape ever more effective responses.

The Education, Research and Global Partnership portfolios, along with the Student Guild, have recently undertaken a period of consultation, and have agreed two Grand Challenge topics to begin in 2020:

  • A more just and equitable world post COVID-19 (2020-2021)
  • Climate change (2020-2023)

As the next generation of global leaders, UWA students will play a critical role in tackling these Grand Challenges to enable the sustainability of our planet and wellbeing of our communities.  These Grand Challenges seek to act as a unifying narrative for the whole institution, drawing upon our existing world-class research in:

  • Our Oceans and the Marine Environment
  • Life Sciences and Building Healthy Communities
  • Environmental Science, Sustainability and Engineering
  • Peace, Justice and Culture
  • Clean Energy
  • Radioastronomy, Astrophysics and the Universe, and
  • Agriculture and Food Security.

Grand Challenges will strengthen UWA’s position as an institution that is engaged with, and for, its communities and will also drive partnerships with external organisations, industry, governments and other universities.

Through our Grand Challenges, UWA will contribute to real-world change through:

  • Student-led change projects;
  • Discussion papers;
  • Large-scale multi-disciplinary research projects;
  • Policy consultations and submissions;
  • Government reports;
  • International workshops; and
  • National action plans.

We know students have increasing interest and motivation to engage with social impact and sustainability initiatives.  With a global shift towards challenge-driven university models to better prepare students for life and work, and strengthen connections with their surrounding communities, Grand Challenges have the potential to be a point of difference for UWA, articulating what is distinctive about our research, curriculum and the attributes of our graduates.

As we embark on this mission, we will identify ambitious projects that will have a real impact on the people of Western Australia and the Indian Ocean Rim, and will produce outcomes of global significance.

What next

The Education Strategy team recently hosted an interdisciplinary, cross functional co-design session, with staff and students from across the University to accelerate the implementation of Grand Challenges in 2020.

In this session we identified some key areas of focus for the University and are in the process of developing an implementation plan which will be launched this year.

Embedding Grand Challenges within the fabric of the University will take a culture of collaboration, openness, innovation, patience and perseverance.

Our Grand Challenges approach will unite our students, staff and communities to address these issues and embrace UWA’s mission to ‘advance the prosperity and welfare of our communities’.

If you would like to know more about Grand Challenges please contact: [email protected]


Education Quarterly