Initiatives & Outreach

As one of the nation’s premier universities, Washington University in St. Louis strategically builds upon its central mission of teaching, research and service to improve society. This time-honored purpose forms the core from which bold, creative and vital initiatives radiate. Students, faculty and staff give of their time — using their intellect, their hearts and minds — to reach out and make the world a better place.

Addressing expansive societal challenges fuels the outreach. The plans run as broadly and deeply as the challenges they hope to tackle. Some of the university’s current primary initiatives focus on the following: energy, environment and sustainability; public health; diversity; religion and politics; community engagement and service; and international engagement.

Energy, Environment & Sustainability

Energy, Environment & Sustainability

The challenge of developing new and more efficient energy resources is perhaps the greatest challenge of this era. The university’s science community is poised to contribute solutions through the research being conducted at the interdisciplinary International Center for Advanced Renewable Energy and Sustainability (I-CARES). With a focus on teaching the next generation of scientists; researching such areas as bioenergy, coal, carbon sequestration and solar energy; as well as promoting a campus infrastructure that focuses on sustainability, the university is becoming a world leader in the vastly important areas of energy, environment and sustainability.
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International engagement

As a world-renowned university, Washington University students, faculty and staff are increasingly engaged with research and education throughout the globe. Whether bringing international students to campus or sending our students out to the many international programs offered by all our schools, students develop the awareness and skills needed to function and thrive as global citizens. Many programs on campus bring the world to our students in St. Louis. New initiatives, such as the Washington University program in affiliation with Fudan University in Shanghai, China, will offer opportunities for faculty and students from across our university to study in China.  Helping international students come to the university — enriching the cultural experience of all students — are the Office for International Students and Scholars and the internationally acclaimed McDonnell International Scholars Academy.  The international grants, collaborations and research of our faculty spans the globe and the disciplines.
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Community engagement and service

Reaching out to the community – whether to neighborhoods close to the university or countries halfway around the world – is a priority for Washington University. Students, faculty and staff initiate, create and promote service through hundreds of socially enhancing programs and partnerships. The Gephardt Institute for Public Service and its Community Service Office are the two main, vibrant offices through which these myriad endeavors operate. Campus ministries, the Campus Y, Greek Life, and many others embrace this ethic of service with additional signature programs. Also, through the Neighborhood Network, the university maintains a strong commitment and connection to the communities that surround us. The Women’s Society of Washington University and the Woman's Club work to engage women in the life of the university through education, scholarships and other outreach to students. The impact of this vast array of community service projects is summarized in the Community Impact Study.
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Public Health

Interdisciplinary in nature, the Institute for Public Health organizes and facilitates a wide-range of public health research occurring within and across the numerous university departments, including all eight professional schools with the goal of improving population health. The institute links science to community health by stimulating research, teaching and community engagement, and by building data, evidence, research and interventions.
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Diversity

At the forefront of every university endeavor is a push for inclusiveness and better representation of all groups. Over the past two decades, Washington University invested heavily in recruiting and retaining top faculty, and it continues to make increasing racial diversity and gender balance a top priority. Regarding the student body, the most recent entering class, specifically, consisted of 50 percent men, 50 percent women, and more than 35 percent multicultural or international students. Students and faculty come from more than 110 countries. To this end, the university launched the Diversity Initiative in 2005 to attract people of great ability from all types of backgrounds. One example of reaching out to minority groups is through the LGBT Student Involvement and Leadership group. Washington University also strives to increase diversity representation in the workplace by awarding contracts through its Office of Supplier Diversity.
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Religion and politics

In 2010, the university established a scholarly and educational center to focus on the role of religion in politics in the United States. The establishment of the John C. Danforth Center on Religion & Politics reflects the legacy of former United States Senator John Danforth and his belief in the importance of a civil discourse that treats differences with respect. The center will serve as an ideologically neutral place that fosters rigorous, unbiased scholarship and encourages conversations between diverse and even conflicting points of view. Learn more

Leading Together: the Campaign for Washington University