Academic Innovation seeks proposals to address global challenges


The Center for Academic Innovation is accepting proposals for online courses and series that address the fundamental global challenges facing an increasingly interconnected world.

While the world continues to confront issues brought on by the pandemic, there are critical questions with which countries, organizations and people are grappling every day, from climate change and sustainability to automation and the future of work.

Just as the University of Michigan community embraced the challenges of the pandemic and advanced solutions for online teaching and learning, the university is also uniquely positioned to impact these issues on a global scale.

“U-M is leading higher education toward a blended future, as we continue to address the most pressing challenges facing our world today and tomorrow,” President Mark Schlissel said. “Through our faculty’s commitment to innovation and our ethos of interdisciplinary collaboration, we are extending our university’s public mission and creating a global virtual campus to stand alongside the world-class residential experiences we will always offer.”

Faculty members are encouraged to submit proposals on a wide range of global challenges, and work with the center to develop a massive open online course or course series.

Proposals will be accepted until Nov. 19 with decisions made in mid-December.

Approved proposals feature a faculty stipend, in-kind support from the center, including instructional design, project management, media production and marketing support. There is also funding for course development assistance and opportunities for shared revenue from course enrollments.

Learners based in more than 200 countries have enrolled in Michigan Online’s portfolio of online learning opportunities more than 15 million times. In addition, current faculty, staff, students and alumni have free lifetime access to U-M’s catalog of courses. The center has worked with faculty to develop nearly 200 MOOCs to date.

Proposals are encouraged in any topic that addresses the grand challenges of an interconnected world, with some high-interest categories including climate change and sustainability, financial technology, artificial intelligence, programming for statisticians and data analysis, robotics, technology and policy related to mobility, the ethics and economics of social media, mental health issues, and humanities.

“In a rapidly changing world, we are extending the mission of U-M through Michigan Online in order to support lifelong learners as they seek to obtain new skills and understand complex problems,” said James DeVaney, founding executive director of the Center for Academic Innovation.

“But understanding problems is not enough. Through Michigan Online, we provide opportunities for perpetual learning and connection — opportunities to explore and obtain new skills; participate in interdisciplinary, interprofessional, and intergenerational communities; and create new knowledge to solve the problems that matter most.”


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