The Convergence Colloquia are multidisciplinary gatherings that advance cutting-edge research to develop innovative solutions and build long-term partnerships that improve the world.
The colloquia are designed to promote a culture of serendipity, a primary area of focus for the Office of the Vice President for Research, by bringing together University researchers with private, public, and nonprofit stakeholders to identify strategic collaboration opportunities that can lead to significant impact at the local, state, national, and global scales.
Colloquia in Action
Each colloquium engages 50–100 participants from a variety of disciplines and fields. Through facilitated sessions and focused dialogue, participants work to identify a set of strategic research priorities and explore opportunities for collaboration.
Seven highly successful Convergence Colloquia were held between February 2015 and May 2016 on the topics of smart cities and infrastructure, aging, health equity, renewable energy, sustainable food systems, water supply and citizen science.
More than 600 people, with roughly half from the University and half from outside, participated in these action-oriented “think tanks.” Internal participants came from all five University campuses and 15 UMTC colleges; external participants represented the nonprofit sector, the public sector, and the private sector.
The first seven Convergence Colloquia were followed by the opportunity to build new collaborative research with funding from dedicated Serendipity Grants. A total of 25 serendipity grants (out of 59 proposals) were awarded for a total of $522,000. The McKnight Foundation provided $130,000 toward those grants.
Serendipity Grants included projects to map the age of infrastructure across Minnesota’s towns and cities in order to help inform policymakers’ decisions, to benchmark the growing sector of urban agriculture for environmental sustainability and production efficiency, and to examine the opportunities and barriers to the use of renewable energies by municipal and cooperative utilities in Greater Minnesota. (More grant details are available under each colloquium topic.)
Contact Frances Lawrenz, associate vice president for research, firstname.lastname@example.org, 612-625-2046.