For nearly as long as universities have been around, they've been subdivided by academic discipline into colleges and departments. It's an entirely reasonable structure with one glaring weakness: the pressing scientific and societal issues we face don't conform to those neat divisions. Challenges like developing sustainable energy systems can be met only through massive interdisciplinary efforts.
That's why UCF launched its Faculty Cluster Initiative in 2015 to foster the development of strong, diverse, interdisciplinary faculty teams that will leverage the university's existing strengths to tackle specific challenges and opportunities.
Designed to produce transformative breakthroughs along the boundaries between disciplines -- or even to redefine those boundaries -- the initiative has so far created clusters in areas including energy conversion and propulsion, cybersecurity and privacy, genomics and bioinformatics, prosthetic interfaces, renewable energy stems, and sustainable coastal systems.
Precisely because they don't conform to traditioanl structures -- not traditional funding models -- UCF faculty clusters urgently need private support. With an emphasis on purposefully addressing cross-disciplinary issues, rather than on advancing knowledge within a single field, their success requires the flexibility to recruit top-flight team members, respond quickly to new avenues of inquiry, and leverage cutting-edge equipment and facilities. For the same reason, philanthropic support of the Faculty Clusters Initiative has the potential to create truly transformational impact.