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Frequently Asked Questions

Grand Challenges and Boise State:

What are potential outcomes of Grand Challenges?

Grand Challenges unite university resources toward solving ambitious problems with significant local, regional, national, and global implications.  In this transdisciplinary scholarly endeavor, potential outcomes include:

  • Impact, causing change to improve quality of life and sustainability
  • Societally-relevant solutions to complex challenges
  • New and sustaining collaborations
  • New scholarly activity
  • Growth in scholarly activity
  • Growth in students, staff, and faculty engaged in scholarly work
  • Excellence in scholarly activity
  • Recruitment of students, staff, and faculty
  • Outward visibility of our campus community
  • New model of how we engage with each other, and our community and industry
  • Institutional support of transdisciplinary work 

How were the Grand Challenges shaped and developed? 

The initial themes were based on a review of portfolios at Boise State in 2019. In 2020, a call to comment on the proposed themes was advertised and over 150 responses were received. Since then, the themes have been updated to reflect these responses, resulting in four Grand Challenges. 

Is the concept of Grand Challenges new to Boise State?

No, the Division of Research and Economic Development has propped up conceptually similar research areas of strength in the past. For example, DRED has assisted with programs within Creative Writing (MFA), Materials Science and Engineering, Biological Sciences, and Geosciences. We also provided support to help manage computer science becoming a strength through investment. Additionally, creating a framework for tackling Grand Challenges is very common at research universities and not a new concept for research development as a whole.

How do the Grand Challenges incorporate other University plans/priorities?

The Grand Challenges are an integral component of Boise State’s  2021-2026 strategic plan: Blueprint for Success.. Research plays a vital role in our strategic goals and is an important piece of the University’s priority to advance research and creative activity. 

Who is taking ownership of the Grand Challenges? 

Activities around the Grand Challenges will be principally supported by the Division of Research and Economic Development. However, the Grand Challenges are a University-wide initiative, both individual and collective research is valued. 

Will these be the only Grand Challenges? 

The Grand Challenges are dynamic and will continue to be assessed as Boise State grows over the years. Each theme will be released one by one and will be adapted to the current research climate. 

How will success be measured?

We are interested in making sure Boise State has the metrics for success in place for the Grand Challenges. We want to hear from faculty on what does success look like and we are continuing to explore different ways to measure outcomes. For the Resource Nexus for Sustainability initiative, we have established a Request for Proposals mechanism to  form a Resource Nexus for Sustainability leadership team.   This team, with support from the Division of Research and Economic Development, will establish comprehensive plans to solicit, develop, and administer Grand Challenge funding initiatives.

How will resources be allocated?  

As for resource support related to proposal development, Research Development will be available to assist faculty in submitting proposals in line with the Grand Challenge themes. 

What if I do not see my research fitting into one of the Grand Challenges?

Ultimately, every researcher should be able to participate on at least one of the Grand Challenges. Language around certain challenges is specific for different groups.  All research is valued, whether it is disciplinary-focused, interdisciplinary, or transdisciplinary. No area of research will be de-emphasized. 

Long Term Objectives:

Will all future research center around the Grand Challenge themes? 

A Grand Challenge requires deep core knowledge that can be integrated across many topics. Therefore, everyone’s research and creative activities are valued and needed. All scholars are encouraged to continue to engage in their usual research activities as well as ones related to the Grand Challenges.

Challenges and Obstacles:

Where does the money and infrastructure come from to stimulate the initiative?

Investments will come from a variety of sources, most importantly the grants and contracts that we will win, gifts, as well as F&A, and central funding will all help support the initiative. 

How do we meet these Grand Challenges with legislative resistance associated with inclusiveness and budget cuts?

Generally speaking, many of the funding agencies require diversity, equity, and inclusion commitments as part of their grant solicitation requirements. These themes are in line with what the NSF, DOD, DOE, NIH are already requesting in solicitations.

Opportunities for Involvement and Collaboration:

How do you plan to incorporate a broader lens to encourage interdisciplinary thinking, research, and teaching? 

We are exploring the pathways of Grand Challenges and how to broaden the work behind each theme. We are not limited to strictly the science piece, there are community aspects and leadership roles within the campus, local community, regionally, and beyond, which all incorporate large diverse groups. The more we broaden our definition or participation is where people begin to see more pathways for participation. By doing so we will incorporate a broader lens and encourage more interdisciplinary thinking, research, and teaching. 

How do we ensure the most impactful research projects are being prioritized at Boise State?

We need the help of Boise State researchers to do this, the people who understand what will make the largest difference in helping to solve the complex problems each Grand Challenge represents.  

As Boise State grows institutionally to include more graduate programs and graduate students, how do we ensure these transformations don’t detract from our training of undergraduate students and from providing these students opportunities to be active collaborators?

We have excellent models of faculty engaging undergraduate research. We can use existing models such as VIP and service-learning programs to integrate the Grand Challenges into the classroom and grow the undergraduate research experience. There are opportunities to include what we are doing with the Grand Challenges and utilize our community partners and industry to improve experiential learning for students. 

How can professional staff get involved? What opportunities are there for staff to get involved with or to support the Grand Challenges?

We need you! Professional staff offer guidance through project management and development, connections with students, research, and looms & shuttles and so much more. Your contributions as part of a Grand Challenge leadership team or research team only strengthens Boise State’s vision “to be a premier student-success driven research university innovating for statewide and global impact.” 


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