American Univesity of Beirut

WEFRAH Initiative: Call for Proposals and Workshop

WEFRAH is a university-wide initiative led by FAFS and supported by all Faculties and Schools, the Provost and the President, emphasizes the need for integrative solutions to today’s very complex global challenges. Solutions to the complex problems of health, water, food, and energy securities require system level solutions that include input from social scientists, physical and life scientists, engineers, educators and communicators in addition to, at a later stage, stakeholders from private, public and civil society. AUB, a global leader in this area, will use the Initiative to maintain its role in light of the pressing global need for sustainable development solutions.​

The WEFRAH call for proposals was released December 2018, by the AUB-AREC Taskforce (AAT), mandated to develop the AREC Masterplan and coordinate the WEFRAH initiative. The call offers internal seed funding (budget up to $75,000 over two years) and all AUB faculty (as lead PI) and staff​ (as Co-PI)​ are eligible to compete. The interdisciplinary WEFRAH initiative invites projects focused on research and development innovations in technology, science, policy and learning. Proposals must include an AREC component and carry a realistic potential for external funding and societal impact. 

The WEFRAH workshop, which took place on January 24,​ offered faculty from all disciplines interaction with the aim of identifying potential multidisciplinary research teams and clusters of research profiles that include the thematic foci of water, energy, food, health, data modeling, governance and policy, capacity building, community engagement, trade-off analyses, and the interdependencies between all of these. Sixty four participants, including President Khouri, the deans of MSFEA, FM and FHS, faculty members, and staff from offices of IT, EHRSM, PPD, IFI and K2P, engaged in interdisciplinary discussions and explored collaboration on topics that would advance and expand the horizons of their current research while addressing elements of the initiative. ​

The 3 hour workshop consisted of three main activities: 1) WEFRAH call for proposals, with the opportunity for Q&A; 2) the WEFRAH Pitch, during which each participant briefly introduced themselves in the context of WEFRAH (providing background, interest in WEFRAH themes, implications of research ideas, objectives of collaboration); and 3) WEFRAH Café, offering refreshment and discussions on WEFRAH themes. During the Café, participants were seated at pre-assigned theme tables (food security, water-energy, water-health, capacity building, food waste), or at tables where they presented their own topics (such as assessment performance, polymer synthesis/modification, membrane filtration, catalysts, hydrogenation). ​​

Proposal Concept Notes are due on February 4; teams will be invited to submit full proposals by February 15. 

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