• Grand Challenges Initiative fellow working with Chapman University students
Grand Challenges Initiative


» GCI Curriculum

The Grand Challenges Initiative is a required part of the curriculum for students pursuing any bachelor’s of science degree in the Schmid College of Science and Technology or Fowler School of Engineering. It is also open to students from all majors—and could be especially relevant for undeclared students with STEM interests. 

The program takes place over the course of two years. You’ll complete a sequence consisting of one First-Year Foundations GCI Course (FFC 100 - Grand Challenges in Science and Technology), and three 1-credit GCI seminars: SCI 150, SCI 200 and SCI 250.

The Grand Challenges Initiative is open to students who enter Schmid College or Fowler School of Engineering after the beginning of their first year (either by transfer or change of major). The project is required if you have less than a certain number of STEM credit hours, but it is optional for those who have completed enough STEM credits. Feel free to contact the GCI program director, Dr. Gregory Goldsmith, with advising questions.

First-Year Foundations GCI Course (FFC 100)

During the first semester of your first year, you’ll take FFC 100, a First-Year Foundations Course called Grand Challenges in Science and Technology (3 credits). In this class you will:

  • Meet your team and select the challenge your team will take on. 
  • Begin working with your research mentor (one of Chapman’s Postdoctoral Fellows).
  • Hypothesize about ways to solve your challenge. 
  • Learn about university-level research techniques and protocols. 
  • Develop a written project plan that details smaller goals and milestones, all building toward a solution of your grand challenge.

GCI 1-credit Seminars

During each of your 1-credit seminars, you’ll spend a significant amount of time outside class working with your team and research mentor. Learn more about each of these seminars below:

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SCI 150 - Grand Challenges in Science I

This first seminar in the 3-seminar GCI sequence invites students to begin piloting new ideas and further develop a solution. Your final will be to complete an in-depth research proposal that lays out your goals for the second year, including requesting funding for project supplies.

Offered every semester: 1 credit

SCI 200 - Grand Challenges in Science II

You will conduct much of the work for your project during the second seminar in the GCI sequence, carefully documenting your team’s findings and analyzing those results. In this semester, teams begin to meet with an outside mentor with additional expertise specific to your project. Your final will be to complete a milestone (developed with your team and mentor) before the third seminar.

Offered every semester: 1 credit

SCI 250 - Grand Challenges in Science III

This final semester is the culmination of your GCI experience. You will complete your project and present the results to peers, outside experts, and Chapman faculty at a research symposium.

Offered every semester: 1 credit

Future Learning

After your two-year GCI experience, you’ll have plenty of options. You can continue in the program and go further with tackling your challenge. You can gain additional experience through an internship or by joining a faculty-led research project. You could also begin working on the capstone project for your major. Regardless of your next step, you should be well-equipped to succeed with valuable interdisciplinary and problem-solving skills.

Contact Us

Dr. Gregory R. Goldsmith
GCI Program Director

Rebecca Green
Administrative Support