Our focus as a university

Four areas of focus

Life sciences, energy transformation, city building, exploring digital worlds

The University of Calgary has released its plan, Unstoppable, to keep its Eyes High ambitions to be a great research university at the heart of a resilient community.

As part of that plan, four areas of focus – cross-cutting topics where the university is already seeing explosive growth – have been identified. These areas of focus serve as reputation drivers for our entire institution – elevating our position among global universities and driving interest and investment across all our faculties.

Life sciences

Life Sciences

Diseases that affect human health know no borders, nor do they care about social-economics or ethnicity. They circulate globally and require an international response. The same can be said for the health of the planetary ecosystem. From the impacts of global warming, the pollution of our waters through the development and spread of pandemics, natural and built environments are intricately connected and interdependent and can only be addressed through a foundational understanding of life, health, and environmental sciences.

The University will build on its foundational strengths in life sciences to grow our leadership in health research, including precision medicine, child health, brain and mental health, inflammation and chronic disease, biomedical engineering, social impact on vulnerable populations and more.

Through the transdisciplinary research of our Public Health and One Health initiatives, we will expand the scope of our transformational work on animal and ecosystem health, as well as, more broadly, the creation and maintenance of healthy, resilient, and secure cities and societies. Committed to advance work on the full continuum of biosystems, the University seeks to impact the quality of human life and create the best conditions for individuals, societies, and the world.


Energy transformations

Energy transformation 

Imagine a world without energy. Almost everything we do now would be an enormous challenge. Our homes, transportation systems, schools, hospitals, and places of work rely on  energy to keep the lights on, control room temperature, run our computers and the internet.

Indirectly, energy is used to build everything we use in our daily lives, from the books we read to the vehicles we drive. The use of energy also ensure we have the medical equipment we need to save lives. 

Calgary is Canada’s Energy Hub, and the University of Calgary is among the top university globally in terms of energy research and scholarship.  Leveraging our existing strengths, and embracing a transdisciplinary framework, we will lead in finding political, social and technical solutions needed to transform Alberta’s existing hydrocarbon energy sector to become a world leader in sustainable development and clean tech, while contributing to growing Alberta’s renewable energy industry.

city building

City building 

Over the next five decades, humanity is set to create more urban spaces than it has in the entire history of human settlement. This will have tremendous implications for the Earth's ecology, future economies and quality of human life.

For cities to excel as centres of innovation, our tools to understand city building will have to evolve rapidly.

Cities can generate economic growth through networks of proximity and economic spillovers and produce remarkable “green dividends” making sustainability a reality. Cities function best economically and environmentally when they feature pervasive human-scale connectivity, adapt to human psychological dynamics and patterns of activity, and offer some control of spatial structure to residents. Where urban populations are excluded or isolated, cities will underperform both economically and environmentally.

Diversity in all aspects is a crucial element of contemporary cities.

Immigration and refugees across the globe have resulted in large movements of people, predominantly into urban centres. Alberta receives annually an influx of newcomers twice the national average, and Calgary is the third most diverse city in Canada. At the same time, the legacies of historical inequities loom large in modern cities as evidenced in the black lives matter movement and the TRC. Pluralism and inclusion as well as de-colonization and reconciliation are essential to our local and global responses to the diversity that exists in every society and comes to the fore in the dense urban environment in our cities.

The University of Calgary will provide thought leadership that investigates pluralism and diversity in the modern city which underpins and strengthens dynamic democratic societies.


Exploring digital worlds

Exploring digital worlds 

Over the past decade, and accelerated because of COVID-19, the world is experiencing industrial revolutions powered by digital and advanced technologies.  Social interactions, education, health, transportation, and industries are all being reshaped because of advanced technologies.

Over the coming decade, how we live, work, and play will continue to evolve because of multiple technological revolutions.

While others will follow or be shaped by this tsunami of change, the University of Calgary’s digital initiative will drive transformations though its transdisciplinary approach to developing advanced technologies in areas selected to pair societal importance with UCalgary leadership.

We will optimize impact by bringing together these technologies with social, legal, business thought-leaders, and scholars, applying the technology across all disciplines.