Skip to main content

About Global Grand Challenges

Global Grand Challenges bring together Cornell's world-class strengths—vision, expertise, people, and resources—in a multiyear focus to understand humanity's most urgent challenges and create real-world solutions.

Global Cornell organizes and supports related research collaborations, courses and academic programs, student experiences, campus events, and more.

Lecture room with a slide up about the challenge behind a five-person panel.
On October 4, award–winning novelist N. K. Jemisin (second from left) delivered the annual Bartels World Affairs lecture titled "Building Our World Better" and joined a faculty panel to launch the second Cornell Global Grand Challenge, The Future. Read more about the event

Global Grand Challenge: The Future

For Cornell's second Global Grand Challenge, the challenge is to think rigorously about the future—and to see it as a means, not an end. This will require a collective act of imagination, hope, and purpose.

Call for Proposals

We invite Cornell faculty research teams to imagine a "successful" future and then develop the scientific, social, and humanistic framework for achieving that future. Learn more and read the call for proposals. Letters of intent are due February 26.

Advisory Task Force

Wendy Wolford, Vice Provost for International Affairs 


  • John Albertson, Cochair, Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Cornell Engineering
  • Anindita Banerjee, Cochair, Associate Professor of Comparative Literature, A&S
  • Kaushik Basu, Cochair, Carl Marks Professor of International Studies, Professor of Economics, A&S


  • Lorenzo Alvisi, Tisch University Professor of Computer Science, Cornell Bowers CIS
  • Victoria A. Beard, Professor of City and Regional Planning, Director of Cornell Mui Ho Center for Cities, AAP
  • Sarah Besky, Associate Professor of Anthropology of Work, ILR
  • Lourdes S. Casanova, Gail and Rob Cañizares Director Emerging Markets Institute, SC Johnson
  • Steven J. Jackson, Professor of Information Science and Science and Technology Studies, A&S
  • Lisa Kaltenegger, Associate Professor of Astronomy and Director of the Carl Sagan Institute, A&S
  • Ravi Kanbur, T.H. Lee Professor of World Affairs, Dyson School
  • Lori Leonard, Professor of Global Development, CALS
  • Saurabh Mehta, Janet and Gordon Lankton Professor, Nutritional Sciences, CALS
  • Raina K. Plowright, Rudolf J. and Katharine L. Steffen Professor of Veterinary Medicine, Veterinary College
  • Rachel Beatty Riedl, Director of the Mario Einaudi Center for International Studies, Professor of Government, A&S
  • Linda Shi, Assistant Professor of City and Regional Planning, AAP
"The Global Grand Challenge calls on us to go beyond the cutting edge… to imagine what the world would look like if we asked not just what can I do, but what do I want? What do we want?"

~Wendy Wolford, Vice Provost of International Affairs

Anindita Banerjee headshot

Conversation with Anindita Banerjee

What would you like the campus community to know about Cornell’s new Global Grand Challenge: The Future?

The Global Grand Challenge tries to bring down some of the walls that already exist before we even start to imagine what a good future might be. It seeks to make some cracks in those self-limiting walls that we have already built, fearing that this vision may be too bold, too full of wants that are not possible in reality. It’s a call to say: Okay, what if those walls were not there?

Why is it important to dream big when we imagine the future?

When we do the work of imagining, all too often we curb our own imagination. It’s a way of curbing our desires for a better future by saying, “Well, yes, this is great, but it’s not practicable.” Imaginings that are bold—sprung from what we want, from our desire for a better world—often get shrugged off as empty utopian naivety.

Global Grand Challenge: Migrations

Since 2019 Cornell's first Global Grand Challenge, Migrations, has awarded more than $1 million in grants for research, community engagement, curriculum projects, and the arts. Migrations engages students through the Undergraduate Migrations Scholars and a migration studies minor at the Mario Einaudi Center for International Studies.

Cornellians: With Migrations, Big Red Scholars Navigate World in Motion