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Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Addressing Our Own Grand Challenges

During our regional visits this summer, I shared an update about the University's plans on addressing Grand Challenges. President Kaler issued a challenge to the University community in his 2014 State of the University address:

Poverty. Social inequality. Religious intolerance. World hunger. Climate change. Disease. These are among the most serious and intractable problems we face. They are among some of the world's Grand Challenges. ...

Students, faculty, staff, donors, community partners — no matter how different your perspective is, I believe together we will continue to move this University forward because we share a belief [in the same] principles. I believe those principles to be:

  • A limitless ambition in all we do,
  • An intolerance for complacency in our workplace or our work,
  • Academic excellence and global impact,
  • And civic responsibility to be a guiding force to meet those Grand Challenges. ...
I want this University to have a Grand Ambition and apply that against our many Grand Challenges.

The challenge for us is not to wait for someone else to name these Grand Challenges. At each regional visit, staff members described their own region's Grand Challenges. Similar to what President Kaler describes above, our own staff have accepted the challenge to address, find solutions for, and work towards minimizing the many issues that exist in our own state.

The next five editions of Family Matters will highlight our own regional grand challenges, and Family Development's efforts in that region. Family Matters will return to normal in January. We'll kick off this series by highlighting the southwest region next week.

Mary Marczak, Director
Urban Family Development and Evaluation

Grand Challenges Research: Forum Summaries and Next Steps

The following is a reprint of an email sent to selected Twin Cities faculty and staff by the Office of the Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost on November 19.

Dear Colleagues,

Many of you participated in the series of recent Grand Challenges Research Forums to help shape core components of the University's scholarly future. In all, the five forums drew about 600 faculty, staff, and students to discuss our wide-ranging research strengths. The discussions brought into sharper focus the 130 ideas submitted by faculty during our Call for Ideas process — and potential opportunities to integrate and expand the impact of work to address critical societal challenges.

How Is the University — Including Extension — Uniquely Situated to Meet Grand Challenges?

In October, I participated in first three of the five Grand Challenge Campus Forums hosted by University of Minnesota Provost Karen Hanson. The forums were centered on the following broad “umbrella” themes:
  • How will we ensure just and equitable societies?
  • How will we foster human potential and well-being across the life course in a diverse and changing world?
  • How will we advance human health?
  • How will we develop sustainable cities and resilient communities in a world of climate change?
  • How will we provide secure food, water and energy today and for the future?

Diversity, a Grand Challenge and a Great Opportunity, as Highlighted by the Food Access Summit

In October, I attended a Grand Challenges forum on fostering human potential and well-being, which included themes of diversity. Then, in November, I attended the Food Access Summit and realized how relevant it was to the Grand Challenge themes of diversity. I wish to express how enthusiastic I am about all the opportunities that lie ahead in the realm of cultural diversity and the movement of inclusion as they relate to those of us in Extension Health and Nutrition.

Post-Food Access Summit, Part 2

I asked the Health and Nutrition staff who attended last week's Food Access Summit in Duluth to share one quote or idea that stuck with them. This is what they said.

I really enjoyed Natasha Bowens' presentation and thought her reflection of not seeing enough people of color in the farming sector or at farmers markets was a good push to focus more on that topic. I want to work towards making farming and farmers markets a welcoming environment for all people and encourage others to do the same.

Theresa Donnelly
SNAP-Ed Educator

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