UCL Grand Challenges


Our Impact

Work kick-started by the UCL Grand Challenges is already having an impact across the world. Here is just a taster of how our projects are finding solutions to the biggest challenges we face.

Global Health: the UCL Lancet Commission on Health and Climate Change

A 2009 report on "Managing the Health Effects of Climate Change", published in The Lancet, was supported by the Grand Challenge of Global Health, then in its infancy. This was an early example of bringing together UCL academics from across disciplines, including health sciences, philosophy, laws, economics, anthropology and planning.

The success of this approach led to the creation of the Lancet Commission on Health and Climate Change, bringing together more than 45 European and Chinese academics and experts including from UCL, Tsinghua University, Umea University and the University of Exeter.

This led to the publication of the report, "Health and climate change: Policy responses to protect public health".

The Grand Challenges have been vital to the progress of the Lancet Commission, driving it forward as it investigates and reports upon the links between health and climate change.

More examples of Global Health projects having an impact

Human Wellbeing: the UCL Centre for Behaviour Change

The Grand Challenge of Human Wellbeing played a key role in supporting the creation of the UCL Centre for Behaviour Change, which harnesses the breadth and depth of academic expertise in behaviour change at UCL to address key challenges facing society.

The Centre for Behaviour Change offers a range of services to both academic researchers and external practitioners: cross-disciplinary taught courses throughout the year, including a third year BSc module on Behaviour Change, a range of training courses, a popular summer school, a consultancy service, and monthly Behaviour Change Clinics where UCL academics will meet teams of policymakers, practitioners and researchers working in behaviour change, to discuss their current work and proposals for future projects.

More examples of Human Wellbeing projects having an impact

Sustainable Cities: Re-thinking the housing crisis

One of the biggest challenges facing the UK, particularly our home of London, is the housing crisis. The orthodox thinking holds that supply-side measures - simply building more houses - will solve the housing crisis. UCL research is showing that in focusing on supply the demand side of the equation often gets lost. There are an increasing number of demand-side factors at play due the financialisation of housing, credit liberalisation and money creation all of which have placed upward pressure on house prices.

The Grand Challenge of Sustainable Cities, in collaboration with UCL Public Policy, commissioned a number of prominent UCL academics to present the latest thinking on the issue, including academics from departments as diverse as Development Planning, Philosophy, Economics, Archaeology and Science, Technology, Engineering and Public Policy. This resulted in a series of blogs and a public Question Time event which discussed the possible responses to the housing crisis in London.

Cultural Understanding: Changing perceptions on refugees

Events supported by the Grand Challenge of Cultural Understanding have contributed to our understanding of refugees, by attempting to tell their stories.

Moving Borders, a conference held in June 2016, brought together students from London and around the world. It proved to be an inspiring and informative window into contemporary debates about refugees, showcasing cutting edge research on refugee experiences and initiatives and providing the UCL Global Migration Msc students with valuable experience in organising and chairing an academic conference.

The Space of Refuge installation and symposium, held in early 2017, reflected and investigated the evolution of Palestinian refugee camps since the 1940s. The work asked difficult questions about space in a 'host country' and offered fascinating insights into the changes that took place in these 'temporary' camps over decades. The work was a a collaboration between Professor Murray Fraser (UCL Bartlett School of Architecture) and Dr Elena Fiddian-Qasmiyeh (UCL Geography and the Refuge in a Moving World research network), creating an installation reflecting life in a Palestinian refugee camp and bringing the voices of those who live there to life.

More examples of Cultural Understanding projects having an impact

Contact Us

To find out more about what the Grand Challenges can offer you, including:

  • help finding a collaborator, either within UCL or an external partner
  • help accessing funding opportunities
  • help getting your cross-disciplinary work out to the public, policymakers or industry

...contact us by emailing grand-challenges@ucl.ac.uk to speak to a member of the team