The University of California will deploy the collective power of its 10 campuses in a multidisciplinary effort to combat poverty in California and around the world, UC officials announced today (Feb. 8, 2016).

The new Blum Federation, launched with $1.32 million in seed funding from the UC Office of the President, brings together individual Blum Centers and initiatives from across the UC system to enhance teaching and research collaboration on global poverty, economic and social justice, and democracy.

Each campus Blum Center brings specialized expertise to addressing these multifaceted problems. The federation will integrate that wide-ranging expertise under a single umbrella, while opening up new educational opportunities for students.

“As a public research university, we are uniquely positioned to look for innovative approaches to intractable issues like poverty,” UC President Janet Napolitano said in announcing the award. “The new Blum Federation will accelerate universitywide research and education on one of the most difficult issues of our time.”

Students at both the graduate and undergraduate levels will see expanded educational opportunities and new avenues for cross-campus collaboration, including:

Development of a series of high-quality poverty alleviation courses across the UC system that expand offerings for a poverty studies minor; Expansion of the systemwide Big Ideas contest, through which interdisciplinary teams of students compete to develop creative approaches to complex issues, such as hunger, clean energy and social change; Formation of a student fellows program that fosters student-focused collaborations across the University.

Since joining UC in late 2013, Napolitano has challenged the university to use its collective research and operational clout to address global problems.

Early in her tenure, she launched the Carbon Neutrality Initiative, which coalesces campus efforts against climate change and sets a specific goal of achieving UC-wide carbon neutrality by 2020.

She later launched the Global Food Initiative, which harnesses expertise and resources across the UC system to put the world on a path to sustainably feeding itself.

Creation of the Blum Federation aligns with those ambitious initiatives, and opens the doors to a deeper level of collaboration on overlapping issues.

For example, Blum Federation members, in partnership with the Global Food Initiative and the UC Office of the President, have already begun planning a conference in May at UC Irvine that focuses on global food security and climate issues. At the top of the agenda is identifying opportunities for fruitful cross-campus collaborations.

“This will be the first convening of the Blum Centers as a federation,” said Prof. Richard Matthew, faculty director of the Blum Center for Poverty Alleviation at UC Irvine. “We are excited to explore how our interdisciplinary expertise can advance issues of food security and climate action, which are at the core of large-scale efforts to deal with poverty.”