Institutional Priorities

Development of Signature Areas


In Objective 12 of For the Public Good, the University of Alberta community has committed to the development of a portfolio of signature research and teaching areas where the university is or will be recognized as a global leader. 

The first cycle of signature and emerging area identification is expected to be completed by Spring 2017. The overall process of identifying and developing signature and emerging areas of research and teaching will continue throughout the lifespan of For the Public Good, ensuring that they reflect the evolving priorities and strengths of the university over time.

Led by President David Turpin, Provost and Vice-president (Academic) Steven Dew, and Vice-president (Research) Lorne Babiuk the development process will provide all members of the university community with opportunities to participate in the development of these multi and interdisciplinary signature areas.

Learn More and Participate

 Why Develop Signature Areas? 

(Includes the November 17, 2016 introductory campus forum video)

 Development Updates 

(Features the March 23, 2017 campus forum video and slides)

Why develop signature areas?

Like the development of the institutional strategic plan itself, the process we will follow to identify and develop signature and emerging areas is as important as the end result. The conversations that will be stimulated through this process will provide the university community with new opportunities to develop shared ideas, build capacity for inter-faculty relationships, and identify new research and teaching directions.   
The university has chosen to develop and identify existing and emerging signature areas in order to more effectively address the interdisciplinary complexity of the global community’s biggest questions and challenges. Doing so will maximize the institution's capacity to lead change by nurturing dynamic, innovative, creative multi- and inter-disciplinary teams that are able to take multi-faceted approaches to problems. 
The development and identification of signature research and teaching areas will also help to further attract talented undergraduate and graduate students, post-doctoral fellows, research staff and new faculty who want to be part of these areas. In turn, this will make it easier for the U of A to partner with other leading institutions and teams across Canada and the world, while also placing the university in a stronger position to apply for and create major new funding opportunities. 

Signature areas will not replace the broad base of fundamental and applied research, scholarship, and creative activities already ongoing at the university. Diversity and breadth in teaching and research will remain an essential feature of the University of Alberta — without them the development of signature research and teaching areas would be impossible now and in the future.

Campus Forum Presentation Slides



As described in For the Public Good, the university community will identify and support established and emerging areas of research and teaching distinction and distinctiveness, using the following criteria:  

  • National and international stature for excellence, relevance, and impact 
  • Critical mass—opportunity for broad, interdisciplinary engagement 
  • Grassroots leadership, participation, and support from within our university community 
  • Stakeholder partnerships 
  • Research partners (international, community, government, industry) 
  • Capacity to shape and align with federal and provincial research funding priorities 
  • Student demand 
  • Physical and operational capacity 
  • Geographic or situational relevance

Development Updates



The following slideshow was originally presented as part of the March 23, 2017 Campus Forum hosted by President David Turpin, Provost Steven Dew, and Vice-President (Research), Lorne Babiuk. The information presented represents a high level view of the work that the Signature Areas Development Panel has done to date; it does not reflect any decisions, final or preliminary.
It’s important to note that the thematic groupings presented in these slides are still in flux—the suggested names and titles continue to evolve—and will evolve based on the feedback received in response to the March 23 Campus Forum.


Campus Forum Presentation Slides