Global Challenges - Interdisciplinary Answers Series

The Honors Program's Global Challenges—Interdisciplinary Answers Series examines complex societal problems through an interdisciplinary lens so that anyone might imagine themselves as agents of positive change. The conversations are prompted by students' biggest worries about the problems of our world, based on their responses to the question: "what keeps you up at night?"

Each year, the Honors Program produces a new Global Challenges—Interdisciplinary Answers event where students and faculty from departments across campus tackle their biggest questions, together. The purpose of these events is to model public discourse through hard conversations where differences are not only respected, but valued and absorbed into evolving perspectives. The event format joins faculty from (seemingly) unconnected departments at UW in a robust conversation that models ways of knowing and forms of respectful debate.  

Our goal is not to arrive at consensus, nor to claim authority on any one subject beyond this: people can best learn from each other if they access diverse information and experiences in a safe space where they actively listen, can share their own insights, and critically entertain multiple perspectives. This collaborative, interdisciplinary approach is at the core of our program, and reflects the public mission of the University of Washington.

Honors invites you to integrate passion for social justice into your life and career. Come to a Global Challenges event, take related courses, or get connected to other efforts at UW that dispel the notion that only a small handful of professions can make an impact or that you have to choose between "doing good" or "doing well."


Global Challenges selected by Honors students

Climate Change: 2016-2017

Climate Change is an interdisciplinary problem spanning from the local to the global—too vast and complex to tackle alone. Most importantly, our storytelling practices, economic and political policies, ethnic and racial silencing, and other factors surrounding climate change must be considered alongside facts of temperature rises, ocean acidity, huge changes in agricultural practice, etc.

Our 2016 event invited member of the Osage nation and anthropologist Jean Dennison into a conversation about the entangled politics of climate change with atmospheric scientist/environmental activist David Battisti, and communication leadership innovator/former wartime correspondent, Hanson Hosein.



Health and Poverty: 2015-2016

Our first public event in the Global Challenges series featured a conversation between UW innovators from three very different corners of campus exploring the interrelations between health and poverty.

Our speakers were selected for their leadership in research and related public impact work: Steve Gloyd (Global Health), LaShawnDa Pittman (American Ethnic Studies), and Chandan Reddy (Gender, Women & Sexuality Studies/English).