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Interested in Tackling the Grand Challenges for SoTL? Join the New Interest Group

by Lauren Scharff, Grand Challenges for SoTL Interest Group Chair

A new ISSOTL Interest Group has been formed to address the Grand Challenges for SoTL and now invites ISSOTL members to join.  This Interest Group will have plenty of opportunities for collaboration and project development—for the overarching concept of the Grand Challenges for SoTL and for each of the five Grand Challenges.  

Grand challenges are complex, global problems that have no simple solution, across all contexts and that require input from many areas of expertise, and–although specific to local contexts–can be investigated and addressed across contexts. 

The inherent complexity of teaching and learning is compounded by the diversity of learners and teachers, the influence of dynamic contextual factors, and the gaps in the existing research that addresses these challenges. SoTL is primed to address these challenges, but awareness, access, and implementation are not uniform across institutions and global settings. This complexity and the resulting challenges give rise to grand challenges.

Members of the International Society for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (ISSOTL) worked since 2018 with iterative input and feedback from people around the world to identify five Grand Challenges for SoTL. Ultimately, these Grand Challenges for SoTL provide a framework to support far-reaching collaborations, and they will communicate the value of and guide actions undertaken by ISSOTL, by SoTL scholars, and for the purpose of public outreach

As part of ISSOTL’s efforts to promote collaborations and to address the Grand Challenges for SoTL, this new Interest Group, formed in January 2024, will serve as the hub across the Society for ISSOTL members to get involved in a variety of ways.  Its mission is to coordinate, support, and contribute to ISSOTL’s efforts to address the five Grand Challenges of SoTL through research, communication and showcasing, and collaborations within and beyond ISSOTL membership.  As the hub for the Grand Challenges for SoTL, this Interest Group will coordinate efforts to form robust collaborations, generate meaningful insights related to the five Grand Challenges for SoTL, and grow the awareness and perceived value of SoTL as a driver for enhancing teaching and learning across global educational systems. 

The Grand Challenges for SoTL Interest Group will have several subgroups, one for each of the five grand challenges and one for overarching coordination of grand challenges efforts and alignment with other ISSOTL activities.  Some possible activities for the five subgroups corresponding to the grand challenges are the following:

  • find examples of SoTL efforts related to the GC within TLI so they can be tagged and easily located with searches, 
  • initiate a collaborative project addressing the specific grand challenge, 
  • outreach to find and connect others currently working on efforts related to the grand challenge, 
  • disseminate and showcase efforts related to the grand challenge through conference presentations, blogs, creation of resources, etc.
How to Join the Grand Challenges for SoTL Interest Group

ISSOTL members can follow the instructions on its Interest Group page (scroll down to “Join an Interest Group”). If you’re not yet a member of ISSOTL, become a member here, and then follow the member instructions above. If you have questions about this group, please contact me (Lauren Scharff,, as I will be serving as Chair of the group.

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