Mission Statement

The Utrecht University Centre for Global Challenges promotes interdisciplinary collaboration and experimentation between Utrecht University researchers, its students, and societal stakeholders from across the globe. Our aim is to critically understand and confront in transformative ways those global challenges that intersect human rights, conflict & security, sustainability, and equity.  

Summary of Mission:

In an era of rapid globalisation, issues of human rights, conflict & security, sustainability, and equity are increasingly interconnected. A new complex dynamic has emerged in which global and local economic, social and cultural trends and developments shape each other in ways and with speeds not experienced before. 

Confronting global challenges in this context requires a focus on transformation. Transforming our world is the strapline of the UN Agenda 2030 and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals. Business as usual will not be sufficient to address the challenges of our time, even not if we become radically better at improving our current solutions. 

Transformations are complex. They require a questioning of the assumptions on which our modern institutions are built, and an understanding of the historical processes and contexts that led to these institutions. They necessarily also have a normative character, for example: Transformation for whom? What are the moral principles that govern these? 

Collaboration and experimentation together with societal stakeholders is necessary to confront global challenges through the lens of transformation. It needs to be grounded in collective experimentation with new institutions, legal procedures, technologies, infrastructures, regulations, consumer practices, business models, and ways of looking at the world. It requires a creative process in need of spaces to play up and play out the politics of transformation.

The Centre aims to be an open university platform for this participatory creative learning process around transformations. Its main stakeholders are university researchers working across different faculties and strategic themes, its students, and societal stakeholders spanning different geographies. And, the Centre encourages different approaches to collaboration and experimentation. Experimentation ranges from a more instrumental testing of new policy models to attempts to increase reflexivity and learning in governance. 

The Centre focuses on transformations that confront those global challenges that intersect human rights, conflict & security, sustainability, and equity. These are areas of particular strength within Utrecht University, reflecting the expertise and work of a range of researchers from different disciplines across the university. 

Background on the Four Domains