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Week of May 20, 2013

Third Century Initiative funds its first Global Challenge projects

Nadine Naber was in Egypt last year researching the country’s revolution when she observed that women’s groups spent most of their time dealing with emergencies — sexual violence, protests, blackouts and food shortages.

They rarely had a chance to interview women about their role in the revolution and document their personal stories so that activists, researchers and policymakers could use the information to find solutions to the poverty and violence.

Nadine Naber (second from left) gathers with Egyptian activists at a demonstration in Tahrir Square on Dec. 1, 2012. Photo courtesy Nadine Naber.

But now, Naber will be able to play a key role in helping women’s groups share their stories in a public digital archive. The associate professor in women’s studies and the program in American culture is receiving a $31,000 grant to set up the archive.

The funding comes from the Third Century Initiative, a $50 million fund established by U-M’s president and provost to develop innovative, multi-disciplinary approaches to teaching and scholarship over five years.

Naber’s project is one of 15 that received funding earlier this month from a component of the initiative called Global Challenges for a Third Century (GCTC), which seeks to inspire ideas about how to tackle some of the world’s greatest challenges.

The projects — involving dozens of schools, colleges and units across campus — were selected through a competitive process that considered more than 115 proposals.

“One of the crucial ways to learn about the role of women in the revolution is through their own stories,” Naber said. “What personal stories bring to light are the many crisscrossing issues that impact women’s lives: poverty, multiple forms of violence, dictatorship, corruption, political participation and representation.”

Other projects funded by GCTC include:

• Using mobile phones to improve science labs in Africa.

• Creating diagnostic tests for infectious diseases.

• Using art as an economic engine.

• Developing sustainable transportation.

• Improving educational outcomes for low-income students enrolled in career-technical programs.

• Enhancing legal systems with technology.

Descriptions of the funded projects are at

The recipients were chosen by the Office of the Provost based on recommendations of the Global Challenges Advisory Committee, consisting of eight faculty members across campus.

Proposals are being accepted for the program’s second round. More information is available at

In March, grants were awarded by another component of the initiative, Transforming Learning for a Third Century (TLTC), ( which creates innovative student learning experiences. TLTC also is accepting proposals. More information is available at


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