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Engaging Students in Solving Grand Challenges

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University of Denver

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Community table meeting

The DU Grand Challenges demonstrates the heart of the University’s commitment to advance the public good. Spearheaded by the Center of Community Engagement to advance Scholarship and Learning and the Collaboration for the Public Good Working Group, the work of DU Grand Challenges focuses on three action areas: improving daily living, increasing economic opportunity, and advancing deliberation and action for the public good.

While other universities have been involved in similar initiatives, DU Grand Challenges has uniquely approached this charge to allow for students, faculty and community members to collaborate at all stages of the projects. Twelve research projects gave a platform to 30 undergraduate students, faculty members and partner organizations to make change that reflected local realities and challenges faced by these communities. DU Grand Challenges also piloted several large-scale events, such as A Community Table and Forums, to increase the opportunity for participation.

With a new grant from the Arthur Vining Davis Foundations, DU Grand Challenges has been able to set its sights even higher, aiming to engage 750 students in at least one academic or co-curricular activity in the next two academic years. Of those students, 250 will become DU Grand Challenges Scholars and will participate in faculty-mentored pathways connecting their various learning experiences through the program and preparing them for public problem-solving.

In response to COVID-19, DU Grand Challenges adjusted to provide a robust array of offerings to support students, faculty, staff, and community members as they continue this meaningful work. A Community Table was offered in a virtual platform, and more resources are being built to aid in facilitating conversations around the three action areas. While the method of delivery has changed, DU Grand Challenges recognizes the importance of this work and strives to provide students, faculty and community members with the tools needed to continue being change makers.

“The Arthur Vining Davis Foundations are pleased to support the expansion of the Grand Challenges initiative. Through this important program, DU students are solving real-world problems while experiencing high-impact and transformative learning.”
-Michael J. Murray, President, The Arthur Vining Davis Foundations

Arthur Vining Davis Foundations are a part of Spire Society and Crimson & Gold Society.