About the Grand Challenges Scholars Program (GCSP)
The Grand Challenges Scholars Program (GCSP) is a global movement that advances a new education paradigm—one that prepares students to change the world for the better—aligning closely with the mission of The Global School at WPI. The GCSP is a combined curricular, cocurricular, and extracurricular program with five competencies that are designed to prepare students to address the grand challenges facing society in the 21st century, in areas including sustainability, health, security, and joy of living. Implemented at more than 50 schools around the world, each institution develops its specific initiative within the program framework.
Meet Five of WPI's Grand Challenge Scholars
GCSP at WPI
The GCSP at WPI supports and recognizes undergraduates who wish to combine any major with a passion to address significant challenges facing society.
In August 2017 the NAE named WPI a Grand Challenges Scholars School, recognizing the university’s unique project-based curriculum—the core of the WPI Plan—that enables students to engage in real-world experiences across four years and around the globe. At WPI, our Grand Challenge Scholars Program builds on the WPI Plan. With the Great Problems Seminar, thematically related coursework through the Humanities & Arts Requirement, the Interactive Qualifying Project and Major Qualifying Project, Global Projects Program, summer experiences, and leadership roles in clubs and organizations, students have multiple opportunities to develop their research abilities, interdisciplinary and global perspectives, and entrepreneurial mindset, all in the service of society.
WPI Grand Challenge Scholars will be guided by advisors, mentors, and peers to make purposeful, informed decisions about their program of study with the multidisciplinary, global nature of societal grand challenges in mind. The goal of WPI’s GCSP is for students to connect and reflect on multiple learning experiences, inside and outside the classroom, as they develop the following five competencies:
- Research ability: Identifying and solving problems creatively through sustained critical investigation
- Multidisciplinary approaches and interdisciplinary perspectives: Interacting with and drawing from multiple fields of expertise; making connections between disciplines; analyzing the humanistic, social, historical, economic, and technical contexts of problems
- Innovation and entrepreneurship mindset: Creating value in the marketplace or in society with a viable business model
- Global and intercultural competency: Developing skills, knowledge, and dispositions to appreciate diverse perspectives and ideas and to engage in open, peaceful, and productive interactions with people and cultures around the world
- Social responsibility: Considering the social and human consequences of actions and responsibilities to others in local, national, and global communities; acting to improve the human condition.
Scholars will document their competencies, reflect on their learning, and communicate the impact of their work in an ePortfolio that touches on one or more of the Grand Challenges themes.
Program Eligibility and Application Requirements
First-year students and sophomores from any major are eligible to apply. The application consists of:
- An unofficial transcript
- A one-page essay explaining interest in the Grand Challenges and motivation for joining the program
- Two faculty endorsers, one from a science or engineering discipline and one from the Humanities and Arts, Social Sciences, or Business.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can beds be lofted or bunked?
- Beds in Founders Hall are able to be bunked. Residents need to ask for pins to bunk the bed, but are responsible for un-bunking the bed at the end of the year and returning the pins to the office.
- Beds cannot be lofted and lofting equipment is not provided.
What type of building is Institute Hall?
- A corridor style building with shared bedrooms.
Does Institute Hall have air conditioning?
Institute Hall does not have air conditioning in the building. Residents are encouraged to bring fans for their space. Personal air conditioners are not permitted.
Is a residential meal plan required in Sanford Riley Hall?
Residents of Sanford Riley are required to have a residential meal plan – either a 14, 19, 200 or VIP plan.
How much of a time commitment is involved?
Three two-hour meetings of all Grand Challenge Scholars are scheduled during each semester (fall and spring), typically at the end of term breaks and before Academic Advising Day. The minimum expectation is that scholars will be required to attend at least two meetings each year, to reflect on what they learned in the previous term or semester and add to their portfolio of work, and share their portfolio with peers and advisors for feedback. These meetings are also a time to connect with fellow scholars and a network of advisors and mentors from multiple disciplines to revisit and possibly refine their plan of study.
Can I view the WPI Journal online?
The online version of the WPI Journal--including past issues--can be found here.
- There can be no overnight guests in any accommodations acquired and provided by WPI for use by the Project Center students.
- Charges for any damages to housing, WPI property on site, the property of our host institutions, or project sponsors will be charged to your WPI account. When responsibility for damages to housing cannot be assigned to an individual student, all students in the housing unit will be charged an equal share of the cost. An official hold will be placed on all records until all payment responsibilities are satisfied.
- Animals and pets are not permitted in student housing for the Global Projects Program. This includes fish, birds, mammals, and/or any live animals intended for consumption. Students who bring pets or animals into the housing are subject to disciplinary action, and any pet found in residence may be removed by a University official.