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Strategic Initiatives

Grand Challenge Initiative

The Grand Challenge Initiative (GCI) is a faculty-led program that harnesses our college’s academic diversity, vast range of expertise and knowledge, and commitment to interdisciplinary collaboration. Launched in 2019 by Dean John Geer, the program encourages faculty from across A&S to identify real-world challenges where the college can make a significant impact. The GCI leverages our unique assets and identity to guide the college’s primary work.

A faculty committee selected the first round of GCI projects in Spring 2020. These projects, and those selected in the future, will focus on identifying and solving society’s biggest challenges and establishing A&S as a center of excellence in key fields. In addition, research undertaken through the GCI will provide new collaboration and curricular opportunities for undergraduates, graduate students, and postdocs.

Current GCI projects address citizenship and immigration, climate change, evolutionary studies, global ecology and its connections to health, the COVID-19 pandemic, and racial justice.



Give Now

General Inquiries:  (615) 343-3118 or 

Strategic Giving: Please contact Jonathan Petty at