Grant to support interdisciplinary collaborations aimed at tackling 'grand challenges'

April 11, 2014  

Purdue University Libraries and Press, the College of Liberal Arts, the Global Policy Research Institute, and Discovery Park have received a $539,000 grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to support collaborations of humanists, social scientists and STEM faculty in addressing large-scale public policy problems. Faculty proposals are being sought as part of the project, and an informational workshop will be held May 1.

Water scarcity, food insecurity, energy dependence, global pandemics and climate change are examples of the "grand challenges" for which public policy makers look to researchers for solutions. Science and engineering can suggest technological solutions to some aspects of these problems, but real-world implementation fails without the insights of humanists and social scientists, says Charles Watkinson, director of Purdue University Press.

Tim Sands, executive vice president for academic affairs and provost, says: "This is an important award at a critical time. The comprehensive university model only works going forward if the disciplines are woven together across the University. This is a great step toward that goal."

The first goal of the two-year project is to encourage humanities and social sciences faculty to initiate and fully participate in research programs that address the "grand challenges" of the 21st century -- large-scale, pressing, public policy problems that can be solved only through interdisciplinary research. A portion of the grant -- $300,000 -- will be offered to fund up to six projects.

A call for proposals open to Purdue faculty is now available at Proposals are due June 30. Interested faculty also may RSVP on the site to attend an informational workshop to be held noon-2 p.m. May 1 in the Hall for Discovery and Learning Research, Room 143.

The second goal will be to facilitate the scholarly communication process in a way that maximizes the political and social impact of research. The remaining funding provides for information management and publishing support for the grant awardees, and it builds on a growing program of public policy publishing at Purdue University Press.

More information is available by contacting Amber Thompson, senior policy associate with Purdue's Global Policy Research Institute, at 49-66392 or

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