What is a Big Idea?

Night sky

What is a Big Idea?

Big ideas are transformational, single-concept ideas that build on the strength and foundation at UC Davis, but move toward something more leading edge. They are interdisciplinary or have an interdisciplinary impact in an area where UC Davis has the unique capacity to be the best.

When formulating your Big Idea, please consider the full scope of the project needs. For example, will your idea require new infrastructure to be built? What is currently in place or has the ability to be repurposed?

Proposals will be accepted in the following areas:

  • Student experience/excellence
  • Arts and humanities
  • Innovation and entrepreneurship
  • Environmental and planetary health
  • Equity, inclusion and social justice

Big Ideas must meet the following criteria:

  • Be transformational to UC Davis and the world
  • Be interdisciplinary or have an interdisciplinary impact
  • Include areas where UC Davis is emerging as a leader
  • Link to fundamental grand challenges or opportunities
  • Be large in scale and need about $25 million in funding 

Questions to help formulate your idea include:

  • Why is UC Davis (instead of another institution) uniquely positioned to house this project?
  • Define the urgency of your idea (for UC Davis and society)
  • What would it take to fund this Big Idea?
  • What is the timeline for implementation?
  • Describe the current state of the field, and how this idea is unique to the field?
  • How does the project align with the Big Idea topic areas listed above?

Keep a look out for the following qualities, which signal that something is NOT a Big Idea:

  • Based solely on a building project or naming
  • Is a bundle of smaller ideas
  • Results in incremental improvement/growth