Course Information

All participants are required to take two classes during their first academic year in Grand Challenges. These classes will count toward your elective requirements but will not be typical lecture classes. Grand Challenges aren’t solved by sitting in lecture halls, so expect classroom instruction to take place beyond the barriers of classroom walls and to incorporate less conventional learning strategies. In addition to these required courses, participating students are encouraged to take core curriculum freshman classes with other members of the Grand Challenges community. Since you are already living together and the core curriculum is very similar for most majors, it makes sense to take classes with your neighbors.

Fall - PUBP 1142

Teams and Collaboration

In the fall, Dr. Wynens, Director of Leadership Education and Development in the Division of Student Life, works with students to develop the interpersonal, team, and design thinking skills necessary for making progress against wicked problems. The process of collaboration requires that we become good at listening, arguing, analyzing, and persuading. Through simulations, collaborative assignments, team challenges, and constructive feedback, this class creates an environment where students learn how to succeed in multidisciplinary teams.

The assignments and activities in the class are designed to give students greater exposure to the types of problems and issues that constitute a “grand challenge”. Through faculty guest lectures, campus organizations, and innovative learning formats, the class gains exposure to some of the best minds in the country currently working on aspects of grand challenges. The class may even find itself in one of their labs or off-campus observing local examples of the challenges.

The class meets Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9:35am-10:55am (3 hour course) and the class is held in Brittain Rec.
View Sample Syllabus (Fall 2015)

Spring - GT 1201
Exploring Grand Challenges

The design skills taught in the fall semester serve as the building blocks for the spring semester class, which is coordinated by Dr. Davis, Associate Professor in the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering. The course is comprised of a series of problems that are issued throughout the semester instead of a traditional lecture or lab. During the first six weeks of the semester, GC student teams (~ 6 people) focus on exploring and learning about their problem space. To this end, GC teams interview experts, go on field trips, and design innovative quick experiments to test key assumptions. The second six weeks takes your knowledge and deepens it by having your team explore and test the validity and feasibility of your creative ideas. The final assignment of the class is not a traditional presentation or exam—it is a proposal. Each project and group is completely unique and independent. Our hope is that the creativity and intelligence of the team will take you along a path that you could never have imagined at the beginning of the year. At the end of the semester, your team will create a pitch to receive funding to continue your ideas and explore possible solutions during your Sophomore year.

The class meets Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9:35am-10:55am (3 hour course) and the class is held in Brittain Rec.
View Sample Syllabus (Spring 2016)


If your team's project is accepted by the Grand Challenges faculty to receive funding, you will take the second year course, GT 2201. This one hour course allows your team the opportunity to work with a graduate student advisor for one hour a week and provides the resources to implement your solution. 

Fall/Spring - GT 2201

Grand Challenges Research Project

At the conclusion of the first year, your GC team will have a proposal for a project that you are extremely excited about!  The second year course, which is taught by Dr. Wynens and Dr. Davis, is designed to help your team take that proposal and to start to transform it into reality.  Teams continue to learn more about their problem area and start to explore the implementation of their ideas. Logistically, teams will meet once a week and update the GC community and their professors on their progress and any problems that arise. In addition, each team will have a dedicated graduate student advisor to help guide them along the way.  By the end of this second year, your team will have both valuable experience and unique knowledge to finish implementing your solution during your junior and senior year.

The class meets for 1 hour during the week (1 hour course) and is held in Brittain Rec.
View Sample Syllabus (Spring 2016)