Initiatives and Priorities

The best work is possible only when everyone works together to create solutions.

Building an inclusive institution of education is not an easy task. George Mason University, however, has long prided itself on innovation in the face of adversity. It takes risks to meet the needs of its students, the region, and the world. What better way to show dedication and grit than by pitting itself against some of the world's "grand challenges."

“Great research universities tackle the grand-challenge problems of our time. We call it research of consequence for a reason—we face serious consequences as a planet if we cannot solve our most pressing global challenges.”
George Mason University President Gregory Washington

Mason has identified four key areas in which we seek to make our mark and contribute on a large scale: healthy planet, healthy people, healthy economy, and healthy society. These global struggles unite all people of the world, regardless of origin, identity, circumstance, or thought. As such, it is Mason's hope that its diverse community can come together to face these challenges head-on.



Global Climate Challenges

Global challenges require global efforts to find solutions. Current and future generations must dedicate resources to countering this problem in order to face the future safely. Finding the way to a healthier planet requires a multi-disciplinary approach.

  • Mason’s Center for Climate Change Communication is among the most influential climate change science centers in the nation, addressing climate change literacy and communication methods.
  • The Smithsonian-Mason School of Conservation, the embodiment of our longstanding partnership with the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute, provides students with valuable hands-on training from the nation’s conservation leaders.
  • Mason’s Flood Hazards Research Lab focuses on developing innovative water resources and coastal engineering ideas, methods, and systems aimed at restoring and improving urban infrastructure and society resilience.



Advancing Health and Wellness for All

Cutting-edge research conducted at Mason has led to groundbreaking advancements in cancer detection, treatment of Lyme disease, concussion protocol advancement, and COVID-19 early detection and monitoring. Not only are Mason researchers exploring disease detection, treatment, and prevention, but we are highlighting disparities in access to health care across social, racial, and economic groups.

  • Mason has established Virginia’s first College of Public Health, creating a position well-situated to meet Northern Virginia’s increased demand for a career-ready health workforce reflecting the diversity of the region.
  • The College of Public Health Mason and Partners (MAP) Clinics deliver health care services to uninsured and refugee communities where health solutions are not otherwise available.
  • Mason’s Biomedical Research Laboratory is a partnership between Mason and the U.S. Center for Infectious Disease Research. The lab is one of a national network of 12 regional high-security biocontainment laboratories, where scientists are studying emerging and potential biothreats.



Strengthening the Workforce

The nation's economy is going through drastic changes in the aftermath of the coronavirus pandemic. The job market is going through an overhaul as companies adapt to remote-work cultures, and small businesses face new challenges in the current market. Meanwhile, fields such as medicine and cybersecurity require institutions that can adapt their instruction to rapidly evolving industries. Figuring out what our students need to know for the future takes consistent and constant evolution, something Mason invests in heavily.

A woman pitches her idea in front of a large powerpoint projection to an unseen audience.
  • The Mason Virginia Promise paves a pathway for offering students earning associate's degrees at partnered Virginia community colleges guaranteed admission to Mason to pursue their bachelor's. The initiative also offers training and support to Virginians who want to start a business.
  • Mason’s network of Small Business Development Centers provides readily applicable knowledge to local entrepreneurs through no-cost counseling and training services.
  • In partnership with Virginia's Tech Talent Investment Program, Mason is expanding state computer science, computer engineering, and software engineering degrees by one-third at the undergraduate level and threefold at the graduate level over a 20-year period.



Diversity and Dialogue

The world is going through times of cultural shift and change. From the local level to the national stage, humanity must rapidly evaluate existing standards and practices, solve long-term and systematic challenges, and move to stave off future problems.

Two women stand talking in a sunny stairwell at an event with the Mary Hoch Center for Reconciliation.
  • President Washington created the Anti-Racism and Inclusive Excellence (ARIE) Taskforce to ensure Mason creates an inclusive and equitable campus environment in which every member of our community, without exception, is valued, supported, and experiences a sense of belonging.
  • The Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter School for Peace and Conflict Resolution's Peace Labs is working to design solutions and processes for reducing violence, building sustainable peace, and restoring relations among social groups around the world.
  • The Center for Evidence-Based Crime Policy seeks to make scientific research a key component in decisions about crime and justice policies and advances this mission through research-practice collaborations.