Grand Challenges Requirements


Dyson’s Grand Challenges curriculum is a required component of the undergraduate experience. You’ll work with faculty and peers on real community challenges, making the world a better place through business and service.

Sustainable Development Goals logo

Grand Challenges framework

The Grand Challenges curriculum and its projects align with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. Adopted by 193 countries in 2015, the 17 SDGs comprise a shared plan to end extreme poverty, reduce inequality, and protect the planet by 2030. With these goals in mind, Dyson is connecting its curriculum to real global challenges.

Learn more about the global SDGs

Grand Challenges curriculum components

The Grand Challenges curriculum includes 7.5 credits, which you’ll typically begin fulfilling in your sophomore year. You must complete three components: a writing course, a pre-project course, and a project course.

Part 1: Written expression course

Sophomore year, 3 credits
Focus: Critical thinking

These course options are centered around contemporary global issues and will help you learn communication, business analysis, and critical thinking skills as you develop cultural awareness. Available courses may vary per semester. You’ll choose one of the following:

Course Code Course Title
AEM 2000 Contemporary Controversies in the Global Economy
AEM 2555 Corporate Sustainability: The Business Challenge
AEM 2800 Hot Economic Issues in the News Today
AEM 2805 Strategic Responses to Poverty and Hunger in Developing Countries
AEM 4940 The Economics of Vice and Corruption

Part 2: AEM 3000 – Pre-Project Weekend Immersion

Dyson students smiling in a team

Junior year, 1.5 credits
Focus: Working as part of a team

In preparation for your Grand Challenges project, this course combines a weekend learning experience with follow-up work throughout the semester. You’ll learn teamwork and presentation skills, reflect on your experience, and develop cultural humility.

Part 3: AEM 4000 – Grand Challenges Project Course

Senior year, 3 credits
Focus: Local and global community involvement

In this team-based, capstone project course, you will work with a faculty member and a client or community partner to tackle a societal problem. Projects span the entire semester. Larger projects may be handed off and completed over multiple semesters.

Projects will vary widely. Because of Cornell’s land-grant mission and our local commitment, we will always have some projects focused on economic development in New York’s Southern Tier Region.

Example projects:

  • Travel to rural Indonesia to work with a chocolate company to understand its value chain and improve its marketing efforts
  • Work with the Tompkins County Visitors Bureau and local farmers to develop a Farm Trail, similar to a wine trail, in the Finger Lakes Region

“Our business is a better world” in action

Dyson has created the Grand Challenges curriculum as a way for undergraduates to engage in complex—and concrete—community challenges on a local and global scale. This three-part series further differentiates Dyson’s applied economics and management business program.

What’s more is that you and your faculty mentors will make a real impact. The Grand Challenges curriculum bridges the gap between Cornell’s thought leadership and communities in need.

Benefits for AEM majors

  • Self-awareness: Shift how you think about yourself and the world around you as you become a better global citizen
  • Job skills: Build consulting, communication, team-building, and project management skills
  • Engagement and teamwork: Contribute to solving a complex societal problem

For more information, contact:

Amy Newman, faculty director
475E Warren Hall
an97@cornell.edu

Elizabeth Sullivan, project manager
210 Warren Hall
es929@cornell.edu