The most significant challenges facing the world — such as the effects of climate change, disease, inequality — are of global scope, and affect all nations and societies, albeit in varied ways and to varying degrees. Many of the greatest challenges are also centrally problems of sustainable development. Solutions to these problems will depend on securing advances in the basic sciences, but they will depend at least as much — possibly even more— on changing how societies work, and how people behave.

Progress will therefore depend on understanding how different societies work and how they vary in their approaches to the common challenges —problems that a diverse network like WUN can tackle with real advantage.

In the broad domain of sustainable development WUN organises its research initiatives under four thematically-related Global Challenges:

  • Responding to Climate Change
  • Public Health
  • Global Higher Education and Research
  • Understanding Cultures

Within each of these Global Challenge areas, collaborating researchers from partner universities pool their talents to work on a range of focused problems.


WUN Global Challenges and Special Interest Groups:

The Public Health Global Challenge emphasises a life-course approach to addressing public health challenges in low and middle-income countries and transitioning populations, and in developed societies where there are social disparities in risk.

The Global Higher Education and Research (GHEAR) Global Challenge addresses the sources, mechanisms, and social structures that give rise to today’s higher education challenges, and works to propose reform policies for international research and education.

The Understanding Cultures Global Challenge is focused on decolonization as an overarching theme of sustainable development.

The Responding to Climate Change Global Challenge addresses the catalysts, causes and consequences of climate change.

WUN Special Interest Groups (SIGs) draw together individuals with a common interest that crosses the four Global Challenges.