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Open Societal Challenges

At The Open University (OU), our social mission - to be open to people, places, methods and ideas - comes first. It’s what attracts the boldest global thinkers to join us to tackle some of the world’s most critical challenges.

What is the Open Societal Challenges programme?

We work with people from all walks of life, organisations, charities and policymakers on research that transforms lives. And we believe innovation starts from the ground up in close collaboration with the people living through real-world challenges. That’s where the Open Societal Challenges (OSC) Programme supports and enables those outside the OU to work with our researchers to address society’s most pressing issues.

Some of our Challenges aim to combat the climate crisis while protecting people’s rights and improving living conditions now and in the future; others propose new models for living well, and many overlap across themes as they aim to redress inequalities across the world to bring about religious tolerance, gender safety and equality, and equal opportunities for people with disabilities.

By bringing people together, we build interdisciplinary and inclusive research that empowers communities in the UK and worldwide and gives them agency in driving positive societal change. This challenge-led and open approach to research is in our DNA. And it underpins our latest research strategy, which centres on the Open Societal Challenges programme to address three crucial challenges facing people across the globe.

Get involved with one of the Open Societal Challenges