Why Develop Signature Areas


Like the development of the institutional strategic plan itself, the process we follow to identify and develop signature and emerging areas is as important as the end result. The conversations 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 help 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

Selection Criteria

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