Health & Wellness
Health is something we generally expect everyone to want. But what counts as “healthy” changes over time, from place to place, and with developments in scientific knowledge and transformation in social values. Furthermore, within and across societies, people do not always agree about who is responsible for generating health: individuals? doctors? communities? nations? As a consequence of these different ideas about what health is and who is responsible for it, many people do not know how to achieve good health, many do not have access to health care, and communities, industries, and nations may create environments that are bad for health in many ways. In anticipating a range of developments in health and medicine, the rise of new ethical and political problems, and transformations in cultural practice, this grand challenge pathway treats good health and ill health as multi-faceted challenges that require investigation and action at many scales and from many perspectives.
Inequality & Cultural Understanding
Concern over rising inequality increasingly dominates today’s political debates—in the US and elsewhere. Not just an issue of rich and poor, inequality is part and parcel of gender, racial, and national divisions. Though systems that produce unequal results can sometimes seem natural and inevitable, inequality is the product of our societies’ past choices—even as such choices threaten the underpinnings of democratic society. This grand challenge learning pathway draws on the cross-disciplinary resources of a public research university to enable students to explore the cultural, economic, social, and political roots of inequality. As students develop a multi-dimensional grasp of the causes and consequences of this topic, they will develop the resources, skills, and inspiration necessary to envision and enact a more just and equitable future.
Sustainability, Energy, & Environment
This Grand Challenge pathway explores how the societies of today can endure and prosper in the face of the global changes wrought by human activity. Can we produce enough energy to run modern civilization without risking dangerous climate change? Is there enough water and land to meet the challenge of growing global populations and industrializing economies? Solutions to these problems require an entwined understanding of science and society. The idea of sustainability—an ongoing project with a centuries-long history and no single definition—challenges us to think in terms of the planetary and eco-systemic as well as the human. The topic invites us to draw on the resources of a multi-disciplinary campus by crossing the boundaries of the arts, sciences, humanities, and social sciences.