Global Challenges Events

Interdisciplinary Answers

Angélica Cházaro speaking while Megan Ming-Francis and Tom Ikeda listen
2018 GCIA Speakers (Tom Ikeda, Megan Ming-Francis, Angélica Cházaro)

Watch the 2018 Global Challenges Event Here

The story behind Honors’ Global Challenges events

The University of Washington Honors Program continually evolves to fill our campus with students who are excited to learn across many fields and to combine deep inquiry with the practice of examining ideas and information from multiple perspectives.

Our capstone Interdisciplinary Honors course (HON 100) poses the question: “What keeps you up at night?” The ensuing conversation invites students into their own sense of purpose at a world-class public research institution devoted to the investigation and solving of profound human problems. While earning a bachelor’s degree in one (or two) established fields, Honors students also think together carefully about issues like poverty, human rights abuses and climate change.

In 2014, the Honors Program secured resources to host a large public event to address student fears in conversation with passionate experts from our community. Now, with the help of donors and thought partners from off campus and all across the University, these annual “Global Challenges” conversations have made an impact on thousands of future leaders and engaged global citizens.

Educators and activists from different backgrounds and areas of society demonstrate the power of interdisciplinary problem-solving at the University of Washington and in the broader world. Terrific, ground-breaking professors join forces with world-shapers from outside academia, (like Randy Engstrom from the Seattle Office of Arts and Culture and Tom Ikeda from Densho) to inspire all of us to find our own way of learning about and addressing the issues that are keeping us up at night and which are too big and complicated to “fix” quickly or in silos.

GCIA Timeline

“There are so many facets to the issues and so many questions that need to be asked in order to find solutions.”

-Kimberly Ruth, Honors student

Our present Global Challenge

Technology ethics and social change…who cares?

Nov. 6 | 6:30 p.m. | HUB North Ballroom | Free

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. Explore what is currently happening and what’s predicted to happen at the intersections of “ethical” social change and technology in this public conversation with Anna Lauren Hoffmann (UW iSchool), Ece Kamar (Microsoft Research) and Shankar Narayan (ACLU: Technology and Liberty Project).


Previous Global Challenges

Students have called out these conversations as “fundamental” to their choice of majors and commitment to public good and guests from off campus are just as effected, describing the event as “a model for civilization.” Explore video and audio archives of our past Global Challenges talks and stay connected with UW Honors as a hub of interdisciplinary problem-solving for Washington and for the world.

The Question of Rights, 2018

Tom Ikeda (Founder/Director of Densho), Megan Ming-Francis (Political Science) and Angélica Cházaro (Law)

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)

Talking about Climate Change, 2016

Jean Dennison (Anthropology/Colonialism), David Battisti (Atmospheric Sciences) and Hanson Hossein (Communication Leadership)

“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, 2015 Speaker

Health and Poverty, 2015

LaShawnDa Pittman (American Ethnic Studies), Chandan Reddy (Gender, Women & Sexuality) and Steve Gloyd (Global Health/Medicine)