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What is Challenges Online?

What is Challenges Online?

Challenges Online is a project week, during which you will work with other like-minded students in interdisciplinary groups to design innovative solutions to real-world challenges. Much like the pre-existing Grand Challenges programme, you will hear from top academics and invited speakers who will help you apply your skills and knowledge to a real-life sustainability problem. You will have the freedom to create your own choice of output(s) to tackle the Challenge you have selected. In previous years, student outputs have included: social media campaigns, videos, podcasts, websites, and apps. You will also be required to create a short group presentation to explain how your output addresses the issue that you have chosen as your focus. In the creation of your output and presentation, you will further develop your employability prospects, as you will develop key skills such as project planning, teamworking and public speaking. 

In response to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Grand Challenges programme here at the University of Exeter evolved into the Challenges Online programme that we have today. Watch this video to find out more!

What do I get?

An Innovative University-led introduction to a topic outside of your degree

Challenges Online allows you to broaden your knowledge of a subject that you would like to learn more about in a fun, immersive and engaging way. All Challenges are designed so that there is no requirement for previous knowledge or understanding of the topic to get involved. 

The opportunity to develop a wide range of transferable skills

In today’s ever-changing job market, it is more important than ever to demonstrate transferable skills to employers. Challenges Online gives you a platform to develop a wide range of skills to enhance your employability prospects, such as online teamwork, communication, public speaking, and time management. 

All of our Challenges are based on the United Nations Sustainability Development Goals (SDGs), which in themselves act as a global call to action to help end deprivations and reduce the impacts of climate change across the world. Not only are these important issues in their own right, but many businesses choose to align themselves with SDGs, so participating in Challenges Online can be a great way to show that your personal ethos aligns with the company ethos. 

The potential to make a real-world impact

Challenges Online gives you the freedom to carry out a project at a level where you are able to make a real-world impact. The university encourages the longevity of this impact by supporting students to continue with their projects after Challenges Online week.

The opportunity to make new friends

Challenges Online is a great way to meet like-minded people and work with those who are passionate about the same topic as you are. In our new socially-distanced world, Challenges Online offers the opportunity to forge connections with others while achieving a common goal. 

Recognition of your achievements

Upon completion of Challenges Online, you will receive a certificate, and your participation in the programme will be recorded on your degree transcript. Challenges Online week can also be used towards your volunteering hours for the Exeter Award

What will I do?

How the Week Works

Challenges Online Week will take place on Microsoft Teams. With the support of your postgraduate facilitator and academic leads, you will collaborate with a small group of other students on your Challenge to design your project/output. Each student project group will have their own separate workspace within Teams to best facilitate online teamworking, with integrated features such as chat, video calls, shared areas to edit documents together in real time, planners, and other collaboration tools. This online way of working will model how staff across the world are working remotely from home during the coronavirus pandemic. Find out more about how to use Microsoft Teams here

The main purpose of the week is to carry out a student-led project, which addresses an aspect of your Challenge. In your interdisciplinary team, you will define a problem that you’d like to address and come up with an idea for tackling it. Due to the flexibility of the programme, you can choose to focus on the issues and questions that you are most passionate about.

As part of your project, you will produce one or more creative outputs to display your work. This project can take the form of your choosing; past outputs have included websites, social media campaigns, podcasts, videos, and more! Click here to view examples of previous student outputs. Your group will also create a short video presentation to explain your project/output to the rest of your Challenge. 

During the week, there will be a series of online timetabled lectures for each Challenge, led by academics and external experts at the forefront of their respective fields. These are designed to educate and inspire the project you’re carrying out during the week. 

On Friday, you will present your work online and will get to see what other students have been up to during the week. There will also be a Grand Finale event held online, which is open to University staff and members of the public.