Grand challenges will bolster CLA

Daily Editorial Board

College of Liberal Arts Dean John Coleman spoke last week about the progress the University of Minnesota has made in implementing a plan intended to increase CLA’s prestige. 
 
Shortly after Coleman assumed office in the summer of 2014, he outlined five primary goals he had for CLA. Foremost among these was to make its graduates some of the most desirable job candidates on the market. 
 
In order to meet this goal, CLA has doubled its career advisers and even introduced a program designed to connect students with internships and research opportunities. 
 
One of Coleman’s other goals is for CLA to embrace the University’s “grand challenges” program, which began last year. 
 
To combat global issues like poverty, hunger and climate change, the University has introduced a number of “grand challenge” courses that satisfy liberal education requirements. Last week, Board of Regents member Linda Cohen commented favorably on the project’s implementation process so far. 
 
The grand challenges program is still fairly new, and the Minnesota Daily reported Thursday that student enrollment in the courses has been relatively low. Nevertheless, we
feel confident that these courses could complement Coleman’s plans for CLA by teaching students how to think about complex issues from multiple perspectives. 
 
Although the program’s mission to “solve” society’s most severe problems sounds extremely idealistic, we believe the courses’ true value will come not from solving grand challenges but rather from encouraging students to begin taking them seriously.