Global Challenges Series

Interdisciplinary Answers

Welcome into Honors’ interdisciplinary discussions about big, complicated issues.

The Honors Program brings curious, nimble learners into community at UW. People who are excited to learn across many fields and to combine deep inquiry with the practice of examining ideas and information from multiple perspectives. People who ask great questions and value difference.

Angélica Cházaro speaking while Megan Ming-Francis and Tom Ikeda listen
Angélica Cházaro speaks as Megan Ming-Francis and Tom Ikeda listen at Honors’ 2018 event on human rights.

While fulfilling UW’s general education requirements through interdisciplinary, experiential curriculum, Honors students also think together carefully about issues like poverty, human rights, and climate change. 

Each year we convene a public event driven by the questions that keep students up at night, connecting them with thought leaders and activists who are working on these issues. This event is a joint effort between UW Honors students, faculty, staff, alumni, and members of the broader community.

Learning at the UW is more than a means to a degree. It’s a launchpad into a life of purpose which can include opportunities to investigate and offer solutions to profound human problems. Students have cited Global Challenges as “fundamental” to their choice of majors and commitment to public good. Other guests are just as affected, describing the event as “a model for civilization.”

The University of Washington is committed to engaging our community in deep interdisciplinary discussion about big, complicated issues. The Honors Program is proud to be a center of collaborative thinking at this Top 10 public research institution.

Ways of Knowing: Nov. 9, 2023

Different disciplines, cultures, and individuals have distinct approaches to gathering information, interpreting it, and forming beliefs. This begs the question: “How do we know things and where else should we be looking for answers?”

On November 9, UW educators from very different backgrounds will explore this topic with the help of Honors students and input from our broader community.

Click here for more details and to RSVP

Subscribe to Honors News for invitations to Global Challenges and other public events.

Global Challenges Archives

Explore video and audio archives of our past Global Challenges talks, still relevant as our world’s biggest issues continue to evolve.

Thinking together about the power of place and care, 2022

Photo of Global Challenges hosts/speakers
Stephanie Smallwood, Megan Ybarra, Martine Pierre-Louis, Shannon Hong, Brandon Wu, LaShawnDa Pittman: Nov. 7, 2022

Hosted in a hybrid format, Martine Pierre-Louis, LaShawnDa Pittman, Megan Ybarra and Stephanie Smallwood explored the causal factors of displacement and how we can work together to address those challenges. For the first time ever, the conversation and Q&A were moderated by Honors students, Brandon Wu and Shannon Hong.

Learn More Watch Here

Youth political engagements constructing our world, 2021

Ben Danielson, Alexis Harris and Dean Spade discussed recent events and opportunities in youth-led political activism in our “Post 2020 World.” The conversation was moderated by disability rights activist, Christine Lew, centering perspectives from public health, legal systems and mutual aid, poverty and criminal justice institutions.

Communicating about crises across a divided public, 2020

Hosted online in the interest of public safety, Jeanette Bushnell, Clarence Spigner and Michelle Koutnik brought perspectives from glaciology, indigenous philosophy, public health, and so much more to this community conversation about the concept of “crisis,” how activism and academia can work in tandem and also hold each other accountable.

Technology ethics and social change, 2019

Society is scrambling to understand (and govern) the impact of paradigm-changing technologies like big data and artificial intelligence on our identities, systems, health and rights. What is currently happening and what’s predicted to happen at the intersections of “ethical” social change and technology? Speakers: Anna Lauren Hoffmann (UW iSchool), Ece Kamar (Microsoft Research) and Shankar Narayan (ACLU: Technology and Liberty Project).

The question of rights, 2018

Tom Ikeda (Founder/Director of Densho), Megan Ming-Francis (Political Science) and Angélica Cházaro (Law) at the intersections between historical Japanese-American experiences and current systems and political decisions to disenfranchise/displace and dehumanize.

Nationalism, “fake news”, and the power of culture, 2017

Kate Starbird (Human-Centered Engineering and Informatics), Randy Engstrom (Public Servant in Arts and Youth Advocacy) and Reşat Kasaba (International Studies) held a dynamic conversation that helped to broaden perspectives on how to remedy or at least slow the progress of civic discord.

Talking about climate change, 2016

Jean Dennison (Anthropology/Colonialism), David Battisti (Atmospheric Sciences) and Hanson Hossein (Communication Leadership) discussed why it is so hard for those most invested in the way things are to talk about, much less agree about, the science and social impacts of climate change.

“Our solution is storytelling…If you can come up with a really powerful narrative and tell stories in an effective way, you transcend some of the challenges we have right now. If you can find a narrative that both groups or identities can agree upon, then you can start agreeing upon what path you can take to make that change.”

-Hanson Hossein

Health and poverty, 2015

LaShawnDa Pittman (American Ethnic Studies), Chandan Reddy (Gender, Women & Sexuality) and Steve Gloyd (Global Health/Medicine) spoke at our inaugural Global Challenges event with Honors Program Director and poverty researcher Vicky Lawson (Geography) on the very clear connections between poverty and poor health outcomes.