The major issues facing our planet are of a magnitude that no one institution or organization can address on its own. They require the pooling and sharing of knowledge across institutions, across disciplines and across continents. The solutions to these challenges are complex but addressing them has the power to positively impact our planet and to improve lives.
In response, WUN has identified four key thematic areas where it has the capacity to make a difference. These four key thematic areas, or Global Challenges as we call them, are collections of high quality WUN collaborative research programs that draw upon the rich intellectual and outreach resources of WUN and its strategic partners.
WUN Global Challenges are also a means of promoting new or existing WUN collaborative research programs to potential funders, policymakers and the world more generally by emphasising the impact that these programs will have on issues of global significance.
WUN focuses its resources on 4 Global Challenges:
The WUN Global Challenge in Higher Education and Research (GHEAR) addresses the sources, mechanisms, and social structures that give rise to today's higher education challenges, and works collaboratively across the network to propose reform policies for international research and education.
The WUN Public Health Global Challenge emphasizes a life-course approach to opportunities for addressing non-communicable diseases especially in low and middle income countries and transitioning populations but also in developed societies where there are social disparities in risk.
The WUN Global Challenge on Responding to Climate Change is focussed primarily on food and environment security and encapsulates a number of innovative research projects that address scientific, cultural, health and social issues. Changes to our climate are leading to environmental changes, food and water shortages, and population displacement and migration. Collaborative and multi-disciplinary research programs are a crucial component of our response to these emerging problems, and experts from across the globe need to work together to explore sustainable approaches to how we can best adapt to a changing climate.
The WUN Understanding Cultures Global Challenge facilitates interdisciplinary research for understanding some of the principal consequences of globalization for cultural identities. The research agenda of the WUN Understanding Cultures Global Challenge is shaped by a concern with how profound globalisation trends such as a more integrated transnational economic system, the rise of global communications networks, increasing levels of population mobility, the advent of international consumer brands, and widening social inequalities are challenging national, regional and individual cultural practices. Deeper understanding of these challenges for cultural changes is necessary to inform effective policy-making and implementation.
Outside of the Global Challenges, WUN fosters outstanding research in key areas of groundbreaking research that cut across all four Global Challenges. Our identified cross-cutting themes are economics, big data, and regional programs in China and Africa.