Global Challenges Events

Interdisciplinary Answers

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 great questions and value difference.

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. As peer educators help them get oriented and activated at UW, students in our introductory course (HON 100) explore the question: “What keeps you up at night?” The ensuing conversations invite students into their own sense of purpose at a world-class public research institution devoted to the investigation and solving of profound human problems.

Street art in Times Square demonstrates mistrust of government motives and processes
How do we decide what to do or what even matters? – photo by John Cameron via Unsplash

The story of Honors’ Global Challenges events

In 2014, the Honors Program hosted its first large public event to address student fears in conversation with passionate experts from our community. 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.

“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

2020 Global Challenges Event

Communicating about crises across a divided public

November 12, 6-7:30 p.m., P.S.T.*

Dr. Vicky Lawson (geography professor/Director of UW Honors) will moderate a robust conversation between three UW teachers/thought leaders whose work intersects with this issue. Jeanette Bushnell, Clarence Spigner and Michelle Koutnik bring perspectives from glaciology, indigenous philosophy, public health, and so much more to this year’s Global Challenges/Interdisciplinary Answers event.

*In the interest of public health, we are moving this event online. Click below for more details and to RSVP.

Learn More/RVSP

Previous Global Challenges

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.

Students have cited 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.

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

Angélica Cházaro speaking while Megan Ming-Francis and Tom Ikeda listen
Angélica Cházaro speaking while Megan Ming-Francis and Tom Ikeda listen

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

Watch the 2018 Global Challenges Event Here

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)