Campus News

University group will develop grand challenges program and team-based learning initiative

The University of Georgia is moving forward with two recommendations made by the Task Force on Student Learning and Success: a university-wide grand challenges initiative and a pilot program to emphasize team-based learning.

President Jere W. Morehead has charged a committee with developing a grand challenges initiative to encourage students and faculty to collaborate around big ideas aligned with the institution’s areas of academic strength.  The committee will explore the creation of a year-long series of events—potentially including campus speakers, research competitions, service-learning activities and other engagement opportunities—around selected grand challenge topics.  The committee is chaired by Jennifer Frum, vice president for public service and outreach.

“I look forward to working closely with this group to identify new ways to foster meaningful cross-campus collaborations around the most significant issues of our time,” said Frum.  “The grand challenges program will have a far-reaching impact that will stretch beyond UGA to improve the world around us.”

A pilot program to teach students to work in teams to solve real-world problems will be introduced through the Honors Program this fall.  David S. Williams, associate provost and director of the Honors Program, will introduce the program.  Team-based learning has been shown to foster critical competencies, such as critical thinking, problem-solving and collaboration skills—which are essential for success in today’s evolving global economy.

“It is truly exciting to help develop this important new initiative,” said Williams. “The rapid pace of change in today’s work environments demands that we prepare our students for lifelong learning and help them to develop key skills associated with teamwork.”

Co-chaired by Vice President for Instruction Rahul Shrivastav and Vice President for Student Affairs Victor Wilson, the Task Force on Student Learning and Success was charged last February with taking a fresh look at the university’s undergraduate learning environment to identify new opportunities to further enhance the educational experience for UGA students—inside and outside the classroom. The task force submitted its final report on Dec. 1, 2017.

“I am pleased to see these two recommendations moving forward to enhance the learning environment for our students,” said Morehead.  “I am grateful to Dr. Frum, Dr. Williams and everyone involved in leading these important efforts.”

Grand Challenges Working Group

Formed to encourage students and faculty to collaborate around the grand challenges of our time

  • Jennifer L. Frum, Vice President for Public Service and Outreach (Chair)
  • Eric Atkinson, Associate Vice President for Student Affairs
  •  Michelle G. Cook, Vice Provost for Institutional Diversity and University Strategic Initiatives
  • Marsha Davis, Associate Dean for Outreach in the College of Public Health
  • Tim Foutz, Meigs Distinguished Professor of Engineering
  • Ammishaddai Sully Grand-Jean, Political Science and Economics major
  • Libby V. Morris, Director of the Institute for Higher Education
  • Samuel L. Pardue, Dean of the College of ­Agricultural and Environmental Sciences
  • Usha Rodriquez, Associate Dean for Faculty Development in the School of Law
  • Cynthia R. Ward, Meigs Professor of Internal Medicine, Chief Medical Officer of the Small Animal Hospital
  • David S. Williams, Associate Provost and Director of the Honors Program