Global Challenges Courses

What is your place in the world by 2050?

The College of Discovery, Creativity and Innovation invites first- and second-year undergraduate students to take the lead in exploring complex global issues, ask important questions and solve problems that mean something in two of the University of Calgary's most exciting new undergraduate courses.



UNIV 201 and 203 are interdisciplinary, inquiry-based learning courses designed to enable you to explore a complex, global challenge using knowledge, evidence and methods with multiple disciplines.



Collaborate with students from faculties across campus to create an innovation that will address the global challenge — and have the opportunity to pitch it to engaged community members.



Develop your relationship building skills as you reach out to community leaders who are at the pulse of business, government and non-profit to gain a real world perspective on the global challenge.



Direct your learning by exploring the areas of the global challenge that interest you. Learn how to think critically about the problem and investigate it in a suppportive, small to medium classroom environment.

UNIV 201
UNIV 201: Global Challenges Inquiry I introduces students to inquiry-based learning by exploring the challenge of Feeding Nine Billion People by 2050 from a variety of disciplinary perspectives. Inquiry-based learning is a highly participative approach to higher education where students take the lead in exploring complex issues, identifying important questions, looking for evidence and solving problems (Aditomo et al., 2011). Instructors serve primarily as facilitators rather than lecturers. Students will develop and present a targeted innovation that is designed to address one aspect of the global challenge in a meaningful way. They are encouraged to view the global challenge from many perspectives, including but not limited to social, cultural, scientific, philosophical, political and economic perspectives. By collaborating with one another and in teams, students will drive and direct the learning process, seeking to deeply explore the global challenge by considering as many of these perspectives as possible.

UNIV 203
UNIV 203: Global Challenges Inquiry II builds on the skills and content introduced in UNIV 201: Global Challenges Inquiry I. Students have the full semester to develop an innovation idea initiated in UNIV 201. Workshops held early in the course are designed to build teamwork skills, prototype and develop ideas and write business and communication plans. Students continue to use ePortfolio to document your learning and progress. Greater emphasis is placed on making partnerships with individuals in the community and government that culminates with a public showcase at the end of the semester. 

"Global Challenges is interesting because it is an inquiry-based — rather than lecture-based — course. It allows me to cultivate my knowledge and take responsibility for my career through my own resources and research projects. The conversations I had illuminated certain aspects of food security that I was unaware of, so I think that events and conversations addressing a global challenge should be held regularly, at schools and at home, for youth and for groups of all ages, casually and professionally, because they do more than bring awareness — they inspire people to join the movement for sustainability." 

Ivan Savytskyy, first-year astrophysics student

What is Inquiry-Based Learning?

Inquiry, as we understand it, is a form of learning in and of itself. This approach to learning is characterized by student-driven design, where students shape their experience by developing a series of questions around a basic framework and then conducting research to answer those questions. Learn More

See our Global Challenges Photo Gallery

When we consider the challenges facing humanity, our thoughts frequently turn to holes in the ozone layer, ocean dumping grounds or nuclear contamination, not what we ate for breakfast. However by 2050, we will need to feed nine billion people — a complex challenge of global scope that will need to be faced by considering varied environmental, social, cultural, economic and political perspectives. And we need to nurture a new generation of creators, designers, builders, innovators, drivers and thinkers capable of solving this problem on multiple levels. 

"One could understand this challenge as saying our population in 2017 is seven billion people, so the challenge is how to feed two billion more. For example, if you think about our community in Calgary, the availability and quality of food is affected by socioeconomic status, poverty, the state of the economy, mental illness and other things. We want our students and faculty to be engaged in conversations that are global in nature, while broadening their understanding of the issue in a local context."

Jay Cross, Director of the College of Discovery, Creativity and Innovation 

Introductory readings

Foley, J. (n.d.). Where will we find enough food for 9 billion? A five step plan to feed the world. National Geographic. Retrieved from (scroll down the page)

Video Credit: Michael Do, Global Challenges Student Ambassador

Do I need to apply?
No. First- and second-year students from across disciplines and faculties are welcome to register for UNIV 201: Global Challenges Inquiry I. UNIV 201 is a pre-requisite for UNIV 203. 

What can I expect in class? 
UNIV 201 and 203 are highly participative. Students can expect to engage in rich dialogue and discussion and pursue aspects of the global challenge that are interesting to them. Classwork is done individually, in small groups and through large class discussion. Class sizes typically range from 30 to 40 students and students will have multiple opportunities to connect and build trust with each other, their instructors and expert mentors over the course of the semester. 

What will I learn? 
These courses focus on collaboration, teamwork, critical thinking and problem-solving skills over content. They are designed to complement your degree program while giving you the opportunity to connect with students from varied backgrounds and disciplines. 

Can I use it toward the Certificate in Sustainability Studies? 
Yes. UNIV 201 and 203 are featured, optional courses for the Certificate in Sustainability Studies