Universities looking to pursue Grand Challenges should secure adequate funding and engage with the public, according to a report released by UCLA on Monday.
Grand Challenges are university initiatives to address issues in society. For example, UCLA launched the UCLA Sustainable LA Grand Challenge project in 2013 to make Los Angeles more environmentally sustainable and the UCLA Depression Grand Challenge in 2015 to improve the treatment and prevention of clinical depression.
UCLA released the University-Led Grand Challenges Report to provide strategies to other universities interested in establishing programs to tackle Grand Challenges, according to a university press release. Michelle Popowitz, the executive director of UCLA Grand Challenges, and others contributed to the report using suggestions from an October meeting of American and Canadian universities that are pursuing Grand Challenge initiatives.
The report recommends universities raise funding for Grand Challenge initiatives through a variety of methods, including philanthropic gifts, federal grants and industry sponsorships. The report also recommends universities hire staff with specific skills to manage Grand Challenges, such as an executive director, faculty leader, project managers and public relations staff.
Because universities participating in Grand Challenges often have difficulty engaging the public, Grand Challenge initiatives should conduct social media discussions, continuously produce online content and start crowdfunding campaigns, according to the report.
The report also proposed a forum where universities conducting Grand Challenges can share best practices.