Course Proposal Guidelines

Expanded research and curriculum addressing Grand Challenges is a key component of the Twin Cities campus strategic plan—part of the overarching goal of creating a more agile, integrated, and deeply engaged 21st-century research university.

Courses within the Grand Challenge Curriculum (GCC) address important global and societal issues through solution-oriented, interdisciplinary approaches to learning. Each GCC course is co-taught by a team of instructors who bring their unique perspectives to the Grand Challenge. Strong GCC courses:

  • Provide students the unique opportunity to observe and participate in conversations around the grand challenge that leverage the distinct disciplinary lenses and personal backgrounds brought by instructors and fellow students.
  • Engage students in group work and discussions to leverage the diverse student body. Strong GCC courses build the Classroom to Community Workshop into their syllabi. The workshop provides student groups the opportunity to receive formative feedback from internal and external reviewers.
  • Challenge students to grapple with issues for which there are no “right” answers.
  • Empower students to bring their perspectives and ideas in order to shape possible solutions or approaches to the grand challenges.
  • Allow students the opportunity to brainstorm, receive feedback and revise their ideas in response to feedback.

View a Short Video showcasing Grand Challenge Curriculum.

Grand Challenge Curriculum: View Titles and Course Descriptions


The information below is intended to help proposers develop strong course proposals. 


Proposal Deadlines

The Office of Undergraduate Education is happy to consult on course ideas and to receive proposals throughout the year. Course proposals are accepted on a rolling basis for future fall and spring semesters.

  • Proposals for Fall 2020 GCC courses will be accepted through December 1, 2019 with final decisions prior to February 1, 2020.
  • Proposals for Spring 2021 GCC courses will be accepted through February 1, 2020 with final decisions prior to April 1, 2020. 

*These deadlines have been established to ensure courses can be reviewed and scheduled prior to registration. Please contact if you have questions.


GCC Teaching Team Formation

GCC courses should be taught by faculty and instructional staff who are recognized for their scholarship on the topic and their teaching excellence. Courses must be co-taught by at least two faculty from different units (preferably different colleges) to provide multiple perspectives on a topic. Course proposals are invited from faculty from freshman-admitting colleges as well as professional schools.

The interdisciplinary perspectives brought by instructor teams are integral to GCC courses. Therefore, future adjustments to teaching teams will result in re-review of the GCC course. 

View course proposal guidelines

Proposal Nuts and Bolts

Prior to access the course proposal form, instructors are encouraged to spend time developing responses to the following prompts.

Course title (short and long)

Good course titles will pique student interest in the topic but also accurately reflect the academic nature and rigor on official transcripts.

Long course titles can be no longer than 100 characters, including spaces, and appear in the University Catalog and Class Schedule.

Short titles are limited to 30 characters, including spaces, and appear on student transcripts.

Course description (300 words max)

A course description of no more than 300 words should be drafted with the student audience in mind. Students will read the description during the registration process and likely use it to make a decision regarding whether or not to enroll in the course. The description should be engaging while also making clear the course structure.

Primary instructor

Determine who will be the primary instructor. The “primary instructor” will be responsible for entering grades and it is their department that will be responsible for ordering course materials.


  • Semester course will be offered (fall or spring and preferred year)
  • Preferred campus location and course times. GCC courses are scheduled following Standard Course Times.
  • Course equivalency: If the course (or variation of) has been offered previously under a different designator, and overlap is significant enough that a student should not receive credit for both, the GCC course should be listed as equivalent.
  • Whether the course will be taught at the 3xxx or 5xxx level, or both. Courses taught at the 3xxx level are targeted to sophomores, juniors, and seniors. Courses at the 5xxx level are available to graduate students and advanced undergraduates. Dual-listed courses must include additional requirements for the 5xxx level section.

Student Learning Outcome

All University of Minnesota courses must meet at least one Student Learning Outcome. Proposers will be required to select one Learning Outcome met by the course and:     

  • Explain how this outcome will be addressed in the course. Give examples.
  • Describe how you will assess students' learning related to this outcome. Give examples.

Liberal Education Theme proposal

  • Reference the LE criteria during the course development process.
  • LE Theme courses must integrate the theme criteria throughout the course (lecture, discussions, assignments, etc.).
  • Reviewers need to be able to see how proposals integrate both the general (“Guidelines for all Theme courses”) and theme-specific criteria.
  • The course syllabus must include an overt statement making clear to students which LE the course meets and how it does so. This statement should be crafted with the student audience in mind.

Proposed syllabus

GCC course reviewers recognize proposed courses are just being developed. However, sufficient information must be outlined in the syllabus to enable reviewers to see what the course will be about, how LE requirements are met, what kinds of materials (readings) students will engage with and the types of activities and assignments that will give students the opportunity to grapple with the grand challenge.

Instructor biography

Prepare a brief biography for all instructors (3-5 sentences each). The biographies will highlight the interdisciplinary nature for students and proposal reviewers.

Interdisciplinary nature

Address the interdisciplinary nature of the course. A tag team approach is not sufficient for GCC courses; true co-teaching is expected. Describe how co-teaching is designed to foster dialog between differing perspectives (for example, ways of knowing; modes of inquiry; the nature of evidence).

Letter of support

Be prepared to attach a letter of support from the each instructor’s department head. The purpose of this letter is to ensure departments are aware of the proposal being submitted and supportive of committing teaching time to the proposed course.


Course Proposal Submission

Once the instructor team has been determined and the course proposal has been collaboratively created, please submit the proposal via the online proposal form.

Course proposals are accepted on a rolling basis.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do I need to provide a syllabus when proposing a GCC course?

Yes. GCC courses get reviewed by a subcommittee with members from the Campus Curriculum Committee and the Council on Liberal Education. A well thought-out syllabus allows the reviewers to better understand the goals and structure of the course you are proposing, and the opportunities it will provide students to grapple with the grand challenge. Reviewers understand that some syllabus components may not be fully developed at the time of proposal submission. They may follow up and request clarification about specific details if they need more information, but the more information you can provide at the outset, the better.

Must co-instructors represent different colleges?

Strong GCC course proposals most often include faculty from different colleges. However, it may be possible for faculty from different departments within the same college to bring diverse disciplinary perspectives. It is important that the course proposal and syllabus overtly indicate how the students will be exposed to distinct modes of inquiry/epistemologies.

How can I strengthen the LE component?

Reviewers will read the statement you provide regarding how each of the LE criteria are met by your course. In addition, the proposal should make clear how the theme criteria are integrated throughout the course (week-by-week schedule, readings, assessments etc.). Remember to address how the course meets both the general and theme-specific criteria.

Submit a GCC Course Proposal

Course proposals continue to be invited from both freshman-admitting colleges and professional schools.