N2025 aims to expand interdisciplinary work across universities | Nebraska today

The University of Nebraska-Lincoln strives to build on its strengths, developing them and combining them to create interdisciplinary approaches that drive new ways of knowledge generation.

This desire to never rest on the strengths of the university is reflected in theirs N2025 strategic plan – particularly within “goal three” of the plan.

Recently, as the university enters the third year of its strategic plan, university leaders gathered to discuss the progress made toward the document’s six goals and related goals. Videos from the discussions will be posted through April 25, each with a weekly topic N2025 Goals.

The third discussion, available below and on the N2025 Website, focuses on the third goal, which calls for the university to “focus research, scholarship, creative pursuits, and student experiences to foster innovative, interdisciplinary endeavors and solve challenges vital to Nebraska and the world.” . Three video stories highlighting the interdisciplinary work related to this goal will be released on April 6th.

Per the N2025 Objectives within Objective 3 include:

  • Increase in extracurricular funding, grants and creative activities generated by interdisciplinary teams by 15% per year on a three-year rolling average;

  • Align at least 50% of strategic research investments with University Grand Challenge priorities;

  • Expand the number of US patents issued up 70% and number of licenses executed up 50%; and

  • Form seven research-based start-up companies annually, each based on university technologies.

The university’s most visible work in relation to the third goal is the launch of its Grand Challenges initiative – a thematic organization that has identified seven areas to help focus and guide research and creative activities. The seven themes are: anti-racism and racial justice; climate resilience; early childhood education and development; health equity; quantum science and engineering; science and technology literacy for society; and sustainable food and water security.

In the summer of 2021, Chancellor Ronnie Green and Vice Chancellor for Research and Economic Development Bob Wilhelm made a $40 million strategic investment and challenged teams to create proposals on the Grand Challenges.

“We had 66 teams that indicated their intention to submit proposals for Grand Challenges in 2022,” said Nathan Meier, Deputy Vice Chancellor for Research. “Teams are led by faculty of all ranks and types. And the projects include contributors from every college on our campus. We also anticipate meaningful involvement of private sector partners in the proposed projects.”

Complete applications are due by the end of April and projects that have been awarded funding will be announced.

Other Goal 3 advances outlined in the discussion include:

  • designation of a number of university-wide research centers spanning two or more universities;
  • Several interdisciplinary efforts by the Johnny Carson Center for Emerging Media Arts
  • Introduction of a focus on “Science and Technology Competence for Society” at the University of Journalism and Mass Communication
  • Received a $20 million grant for a Christian Binek-led collaboration on quantum materials and technologies;
  • Nebraska Extension engages with communities nationwide and through summer internships led by current students;
  • Ongoing collaboration and discussions on equity and inclusion across colleges, departments and units;
  • Creating tracks within the University Honors program that offer interdisciplinary experiences;
  • Offering the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources Changemaker program, which gives students the opportunity to pursue their big idea to impact Nebraska and the world; and
  • Expansion of long-standing expertise in the field of health inequalities of minorities.

Learn more about the progress in Goal 3 of the N2025 strategic plan by watching the video discussion and reading more here.

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