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We take on humanity's grand challenges

Our education, research, scholarship and creative activities, and service are designed to accelerate solutions to humanity’s grand challenges—within our communities and around the globe.

Fearlessly Forward Initiatives

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Grand Challenges Grants

The largest and most comprehensive program of its kind at UMD, this new program will provide up to $30 million in institutional funds to support initiatives and projects designed to accelerate solutions to the grand challenges of our time.

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Grand Challenges Grants

The program has multiple components: Institutional Grants, Team/Individual Project Grants, and Impact Awards.

Proposals for both types of grants address complex issues such as climate change, literacy, democracy, sustainable environments and pandemic preparedness. Winners will be announced in February 2023.

As part of the Grand Challenges program, faculty and staff participants will receive comprehensive media training and professional development to scale their work for the greatest impact.

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Climate Action Plan Goals

The University of Maryland is redoubling its efforts to fight climate change, committing to carbon neutrality by 2025 through a mix of infrastructure improvements, electric vehicle purchases and targeted investments in sustainability.

An aerial view shows long rows of solar panels covering the roof of the Regents Drive parking garage, surrounded by other tall buildings in College Park.

Climate Action Plan Goals

Through the public-private NextGen Energy Program, the university in 2023 will begin to modernize UMD’s aging energy system, which provides heating, cooling and electricity to campus. Under this program, the university is now committed to achieving a fossil-fuel free power plant by 2035.

Vehicles in the university fleet of light-duty trucks will be replaced with more sustainable electric models, or not at all, as they age out of service, and the administration will seek grants and other financial incentives to help replace costly vehicles like diesel buses.

Verified carbon offsets—investments that fund projects to cut greenhouse gasses elsewhere in order to compensate for campus emissions—for now remain part of UMD’s approach to reaching carbon neutrality and include building wind farms, capturing methane gas emitted from landfills and reducing emissions from freight transport.

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120 Initiative on Gun Violence Prevention

America is experiencing an epidemic of gun violence, as seen in high-profile mass shootings in Buffalo, N.Y., Highland Park, Ill. and Uvalde, Texas. Most gun-related tragedies occur outside the spotlight, adding up to tens of thousands of deaths each year, according to the Gun Violence Archive. The 120 Initiative on gun violence reduction, named in honor of the average daily number of people who die from shootings, is leveraging college and university expertise to offer actionable solutions to reduce this grim toll locally and globally. The effort will engage experts in a wide range of fields and topics, including criminology, public and mental health, polarization, business sector engagement, citizen advocacy, education and technology. After analyzing available research, the 120 Initiative will suggest evidence-based, practical steps that people and institutions can take, individually and collectively, to drive down gun violence.

A circle of stones arranged above the letter "M" for Maryland at the center of a flat, stone path.

120 Initiative on Gun Violence Prevention

The effort will engage experts in a wide range of fields and topics, including criminology, public and mental health, polarization, business sector engagement, citizen advocacy, education and technology. After analyzing available research, the 120 Initiative will suggest evidence-based, practical steps that people and institutions can take, individually and collectively, to drive down gun violence.

MPower Professorship Program

The MPower Professorship Program, a collaboration between UMD and the University of Maryland Baltimore, is a named professorship that fosters collaborations between faculty at the two institutions working together on the nation’s most pressing issues. 

MPower Professorship Program

The award includes funding to support professors’ salaries or supplemental research activities, and is part of the MPowering the State initiative, which leverages the unique strengths of both institutions. The inaugural cohort of researchers selected in November 2021 represent the fields of behavioral and social sciences, engineering, medicine, nursing, pharmacy and public health. New cohorts will be announced yearly.

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The 1856 Project

This initiative will provide a narrative of the University of Maryland’s history that embraces its past, stands firm in the challenges and achievements of its present, and lays the groundwork for a more equitable future.

A bronze statue of Frederick Douglass, one arm extended with palm pointed toward the sky and his mouth open in speech, in front of the columns of the Hornbake Library entrance

The 1856 Project

The 1856 Project will include:

  • Investigating the history of the African American experience on the campus and in the surrounding community.
  • Analyzing documentation on the university’s historical connections to U.S. slavery and its legacies.
  • Publishing findings to campus stakeholders and the public with clearly defined reparative outcomes.
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The Capital of Quantum

Building on decades of leadership in advancing quantum science and technology, UMD is working to build an inclusive, regional quantum innovation ecosystem.

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The Capital of Quantum

The Institute for Robust Quantum Simulation, one of five NSF Quantum Leap Challenge Institutes nationwide, launched in 2022 as UMD’s eighth quantum research center. Others include the globally renowned Joint Quantum Institute, a longtime partnership with the National Institute of Standards and Technology.

The university has invested $20 million to accelerate practical quantum computing and networking through the National Quantum Laboratory (Q-Lab) partnership with IonQ, a UMD spin-off that became the first publicly traded pure-play quantum computing company in 2021. Q-Lab’s physical space in UMD’s Discovery District will support research projects on high-energy physics, materials science, image processing, cybersecurity and computational fluid dynamics.

UMD is also preparing the quantum workforce through an undergraduate quantum information specialization in computer science, training for local K-12 teachers, and summer programs for high school and middle school female and underrepresented minority students.

Regionally, UMD leads the Mid-Atlantic Quantum Alliance of partners from government, industry, academia and nonprofits, and recently launched the Quantum Startup Foundry to help startups move emerging quantum technologies from the lab to commercial development.

Strategic Commitment Goals

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Goal 1

Invest in faculty, student, staff, alum, and partner capacity to take on grand challenges through multidisciplinary and engaged research and curricular innovations.

Goal 1

Invest in faculty, student, staff, alum, and partner capacity to take on grand challenges through multidisciplinary and engaged research and curricular innovations.

Objectives

  • Inspire multidisciplinary collaboration to address grand challenges such as climate change, social injustice, global health, education disparities, poverty, and threats to our democracy.
  • Place interdisciplinary grand challenges at the center of our curriculum, further integrating our education and research missions.
  • Prepare and energize the next generation of critical thinkers and change agents through integrated, experiential, and high-impact learning experiences focused on grand challenges in and outside the classroom.
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Goal 2

Leverage our location near the state and nation’s capitals to advance and support evidence-based policy that addresses grand challenges at community, state, national, and global levels.

Goal 2

Leverage our location near the state and nation’s capitals to advance and support evidence-based policy that addresses grand challenges at community, state, national, and global levels.

Objectives

  • Expand partnerships with government agencies, policymakers, and community leaders that allow our faculty, staff, and students to contribute meaningfully to our democracy and society.
  • Provide internships, fellows programs, and other place-based experiential learning opportunities for students to directly engage in local, state, national, and global grand challenges.
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Goal 3

Amplify impactful research, scholarship, creative activities, teaching, and service work through communication, visibility, and translation.

Goal 3

Amplify impactful research, scholarship, creative activities, teaching, and service work through communication, visibility, and translation.

Objectives

  • Recognize and reward activities that are visionary, translational, and powerful.
  • Communicate the real-world impact of our research, scholarship, and creative activities.
  • Highlight the accomplishments of our graduates.
  • Strengthen the integration of Intercollegiate Athletics into the fabric of the university and leverage its reach and visibility to share research and academic accomplishments.

FEARLESSLY FORWARD IN PURSUIT OF EXCELLENCE AND IMPACT FOR THE PUBLIC GOOD: THE UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND STRATEGIC PLAN  is a living document and will evolve and grow as we do. Please visit this site to follow our progress as we move fearlessly forward.

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