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The Grand Challenges

Bringing together the UW School of Education and community partners to identify and address critical problems in education, health and the arts.

Through this initiative we will unleash the power of our most promising research and programs to fulfill the Wisconsin idea here and around the world.

Interdisciplinary partnerships pave the way to fresh ideas


pushing the frontiers of knowledge


trying out new ideas and programs


making a real difference in the world of scholarship and practice


working across disciplines to inspire new ways of thinking

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How will the
Grand Challenges work?

The UW-Madison School of Education’s Grand Challenges is a grant program to support research and practice in education, health and creative expression.

We will spark interdisciplinary teams to engage in projects to make a profound difference in the world.


Across Disciplines

  • Make connections. Share your ideas. Meet others with similar interests and new perspectives. Opt to build a team, or simply network.

  • To formally get involved in Grand Challenges, set up a meeting with The Network. At this consultation, you’ll share your ideas with The Network staff, who will help you decide what’s next.

  • Some possibilities include hosted lunches and dinners to continue discussing ideas and teambuilding, applying for startup funds of up to $500, and attending meet-ups around topics of interest.


Your Next Big Idea

  • Seed Grants of up to $75,000 each will be awarded to faculty in the UW-Madison School of Education to support the development of innovative, interdisciplinary, and impactful projects. Up to three awards will be made in each of the three focus areas in the SOE: Arts, Education, and Health.

  • Seed Grant pre-proposals are due February 15, 2019. Teams selected by a review panel of experts in the field will invite specific teams to submit a full proposal due on April 15, 2019.

  • Selected Seed teams will have the opportunity to work with UW-Madison art students to create visual representations of their ideas which will be shared with the community at a poster fair on May 2, 2019.


with the community

  • Teams may decide to apply for Engage grants of up to $25,000. Engage proposals were due Summer, 2017.

  • Engage teams had the opportunity to work with UW-Madison art students to create visual representations of their ideas which were shared at a poster fair on August 31st, 2017.

  • Proposals were reviewed and Engage grants awarded at the beginning of the 2017-18 academic year.


the world with your ideas

  • For projects that are larger in scale, teams may decide to apply for Transform grants of up to $250,000. Transform proposals were due February 1, 2018.

  • Transform teams had the opportunity to work with UW-Madison MFA students to create a visual representation of their work which was presented at a School of Education Poster Fair.

  • Proposals were reviewed and Transform grants awarded in Spring 2018.

How Will The Grand Challenges Move Forward?

Who can participate in the Grand Challenges?

Each Grand Challenge team must include at least two UW-Madison School of Education Faculty or Staff from different departments. Teams will represent multiple academic disciplines, and may also include team members from across UW-Madison, other universities, and the wider community. Proposals that aim at community impact should include relevant community partners.

Each team will designate a UW-Madison School of Education faculty member to serve as primary investigator (PI). Individuals may participate on multiple teams, but can only serve as the PI on one proposal.

What are the criteria for a strong proposal?

Grand Challenge Projects are collaboratively written proposals that address three key concepts: Inquiry, Innovation and Impact.

Inquiry — What is your burning question? How will the work extend and apply what we know and can do in key areas of expression, education or health-related scholarship? How will it transform the field?

Innovation — How will the proposal break new ground? How will the work use interdisciplinarity to cross boundaries into new programmatic, conceptual or aesthetic areas?

Impact — What measurable and authentic difference will the work make in the lives of people in our community, our state, our country, or our world? How can this difference be measured? Why is this the right time to address this problem?

Interdisciplinarity — How will the interdisciplinarity of your team help to cross boundaries into new programmatic, conceptual, or aesthetic areas? How will collaboration with partners from different fields strengthen your proposal in terms of academic or artistic approach, methodology, and/or type of engagement/dissemination? What populations will you focus on, and how will you involve them to enrich your project?

Who will coordinate the Grand Challenges?

The Grand Challenges will be coordinated by the Wisconsin Collaborative Education Research Network (the Network) in partnership with leaders from across the School of Education. The Network’s role is to inspire faculty and staff to seek out the kinds of support they need to make a difference in the worlds of scholarship, creativity and everyday life.

How will all Grand Challenge Projects be supported?

Each Grand Challenge Project, regardless of the level of funding for which they choose to apply, will be featured on the Grand Challenges site. This will serve as the primary information source and point-of-contact for community members interested in knowing more about and supporting Grand Challenges projects.

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