Announcing UNL’s Grand Challenge Themes

Dear colleagues:

I am excited to announce eight grand challenge themes we will pursue as we work toward the audacious vision charted for the University of Nebraska-Lincoln by the N150 Commission and the N2025 Strategy Team.

As you may recall, I suggested three grand challenges during my 2020 State of Our University address in February. Throughout the summer, more than 400 UNL faculty, students, staff, and friends helped us move forward by participating in an online, collaborative process that identified four additional grand challenge areas in which UNL is well-positioned to contribute.

More recently, the Executive Leadership Team and I decided to add a theme that is explicitly focused on furthering our anti-racism journey at Nebraska. I am pleased to share that the grand challenge themes on which the UNL community will focus are:

  • Anti-racism and racial equity
  • Climate resilience
  • Community and economic vitality
  • Early childhood education and development
  • Health equity
  • Quantum science and engineering
  • Science, engineering, and technology for society
  • Sustainable food and water security

Importantly, the second and third aims of our N2025 strategic plan require us to prioritize our research by aligning at least 50 percent of our strategic investments in grand challenges. To have the descriptions of our grand challenges more fully reflect UNL capabilities, I invite you to provide additional input regarding their development.

The Office of Research and Economic Development will host three online sessions to help the campus community produce a written description of each grand challenge theme. These sessions will be held on Zoom, and times are listed in Central Standard Time.

  • November 19, 10 to 11 a.m.: Theme description writing kickoff meeting
  • December 1, 10 to 11:30 a.m.: Theme writing check-in meeting
  • December 8, 10 to 11 a.m.: Theme description handoff meeting

Register your interest in helping to write a grand challenge theme description by providing the information requested here. Responses are requested by 5 p.m. on Monday, November 16.

I hope you will consider joining and contributing to the theme-writing process. As I said last week during the faculty recognition event held during Research Days, we need all hands on deck. The full complement of talent brought by all disciplines is absolutely essential to develop impactful solutions for the wicked challenges our society faces.

Thank you for all you do to help deliver on our mission as the state of Nebraska’s flagship, comprehensive research, and land-grant institution. There has never been a more important time to be a Husker.

Ronnie D. Green, Ph.D.
Chancellor