The following tool-kit is a resource for those who are interested in collaborating with people from other disciplines or backgrounds to either enter or help to promote the Global Challenges Prize 2017: A New Shape. The Global Challenges Foundation is mindful of the fact that responding to the issues of global governance raised by the Foundation will require collaboration across nations and different disciplines. The Foundation therefore strongly encourages multidisciplinary approaches where experts from different fields join forces and assemble ‘shapemaker’ coalitions. The toolkit suggests ways to establish your own shapemaker coalition. The way that shapemaker coalitions are developed will vary from case to case - groups of individuals you need to collaborate with may be outside of your institution or already known to you. However we hope that this provides a useful starting point for discussions.  

Prize competition background

The Global Challenges Foundation is launching the ‘Global Challenges Prize 2017: A New Shape’ in order to spark a global conversation and inspire fresh thinking about how international cooperation could be better organized to deal with the most pressing threats to humanity.

Catastrophic climate change, weapons of mass destruction, extreme poverty: the threats we face as a global community threaten our very survival. But unlike other communities we belong to and depend on – cities, villages, corporations, organizations, religious congregations, nations – the global community lacks a proper framework to make decisions and act effectively on matters of great common importance.

We need to re-shape the way we collaborate, the way we make decisions about challenges that affect everyone, everywhere, and the way we shape our responses to risks that threaten our world. For this to be possible, we must first start talking and thinking freely about what kind of new frameworks must be established for the global community to be able to tackle the great global challenges that humanity is facing today, and will face in the future.

The Global Challenges Foundation will award US$5 million in prizes for the best ideas on how to re-envision and re-shape global governance for the 21st century.

Developing a shapemaker coalition

The issues raised by the Global Challenges Prize 2017: A New Shape are multi-faceted and complex.

The range and scale of challenges highlighted – climate change, large-scale environmental degradation, violent conflict and extreme poverty – is wide. And the new shape  of global governance must also be able to handle the challenges that are not even yet known (which might include everything from artificial intelligence, nanotechnology, synthetic biology and unknown unknowns).

Tackling the prize competition successfully will likely require many experts working together in formal and informal coalitions. With this in mind, the Foundation therefore strongly encourages multidisciplinary approaches where experts from different fields join forces and assemble ‘shapemaker coalitions’.

The vision is that teams combining both practitioners and academics will be able to cross-pollinate ideas and experiences, resulting in more innovative and groundbreaking submissions to the Global Challenges Prize 2017: A New Shape competition.

This kind of shapemaker coalition could be organized at your own institution, and with your present colleagues. But it may also be the case that you have ideas that you feel have to be complemented by experts in other fields, whom you may not yet be in direct contact with.

Identifying who you need on your team initially can be challenging. The following exercise will help begin the process:

  • Firstly, start out by summarizing, in 200 words, your own main ideas on the new shape of global cooperation. Describe your area of expertise, and how you intend to apply it to contribute to solving the challenges highlighted in the Global Challenges Prize 2017: A New Shape competition.
  • Secondly, summarize in 100 words how you think your ideas need to be complemented. What are the main problems that remain to be solved, and what kind of expertise are you looking for?

These two steps are an exercise that has been created to help Shapemakers assess their ideas and resources in order to evaluate their further needs of expertise before starting work on the final submission. The final submissions to the New Shape Prize competition should be no more than 9250 words.

After these two initial steps, there are several different ways of proceeding. The following list sets out some of the approaches:

  • Get the word out – Use the communication channels at your disposal, for example in the form of mailing lists and/or social media, and send out a message stating that you are looking for possible participants of a shapemaker coalition. Social media channels including Facebook, WeChat, LinkedIn, Qzone, Twitter, allow you to both broadcast to large groups of people and target individuals accurately. Set out the beginnings of your idea – and what you are missing.
  • Establish a forum – Use social media to set up a platform that can serve both as a way of locating possible participants of a shapemaker coalition, and as a forum for discussion and the exchange of ideas. For example, you can create a group on Facebook, which may be open to everyone or only to those you invite. Communicate your ideas and start the discussion.
  • Host an event – Organise a physical event and invite people who may be interested in participating, or who may know others that have the required expertise. Such an event may be organised in many different ways. For instance, it may be set up as an informal mingle, as a kind of professional matchmaking, or a PechaKucha or Ignite Talk. You can use the summaries of your ideas and the expertise that you seek as a quick presentation, and you may also encourage those you invite to create similar summaries in advance so that the attendees come fully engaged.
  • Research – Find out the relevant organizations that exist to match your needs or research other institutions that you may have an interest in, especially those renowned for their innovation and focus in areas that you require expertise on. You can reach out to specific persons who you find interesting in these organizations, and explain your purpose and interest of collaboration.

Please keep the Foundation informed when you develop your shapemaker coalition, as it is keen to see progress and track conversations around the Global Challenges Foundation’s New Shape Prize.

Background material



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