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Buffett Institute for Global Affairs awards $150,000 in support to ‘Idea Incubation Workshop’ project

The Northwestern Buffett Institute for Global Affairs awarded an estimated $150,000 in support to an innovative global research project — “Disproportionate Impacts of Environmental Challenges” — after hosting the institute’s inaugural “Idea Incubation Workshop” this month.

The Northwestern Buffett Idea Incubation Workshop is the first in a new effort to incubate ideas, support faculty and select research projects centered on finding interdisciplinary solutions to some of the world’s most vexing problems. It is specifically targeting solutions for the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.

“Northwestern Buffett is committed to catalyzing cross-disciplinary research that addresses pressing global problems,” said Annelise Riles, executive director of the Buffett Institute and associate provost for global affairs. “In a global environment, excellence in research, innovation and the arts can only be achieved through collaboration with those beyond our field and beyond our country’s institutions and concepts.”

Riles said the institute will begin working immediately with members of the selected first project “to expand the network of collaborators, both locally and globally, and help develop a more detailed and concrete plan for research and community engagement. The Northwestern Buffett team will help to facilitate this work as needed over the weeks ahead.”

The broader message, she added, is that this first working group project demonstrates the launch of a  process designed to incubate further projects. This process begins with the institute’s “Idea Incubation Dialogues,” and Northwestern researchers are being encouraged to join in. Riles noted that faculty can propose “an idea for collaborative research on a problem of global significance that requires cross-disciplinary expertise.”

For the environmental project, team members are being invited to continue their collaborative work for two years, forming working groups. Each of these groups will be backed by a package of Buffett support, including funding, fundraising help, graduate assistantships and a staffing team to assist with operations. In this case, it is equivalent to $150,000 in support.