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


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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 Engineering), and three 1-credit GCI seminars: SCI 150, SCI 200 and SCI 250.

Those entering Schmid College or Fowler School of Engineering after the beginning of their first year (either by transfer or change of major) are required to enroll in the Grand Challenges Initiative if they have less than 60 credit hours (excluding AP and IB). Students with more than 60 credit hours may still participate, but it is not required. 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 Engineering (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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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.