Institutionalizing Broader Impacts

Broader Impacts is defined as encompassing the ability to benefit society and contribute to achievement of specific, desired societal outcomes. In 1997 the National Science Foundation (NSF) replaced its two older criteria of utility and effect on infrastructure with the term broader impacts. Ironically enough this was in part due to the utility criteria and infrastructure criteria being the two most likely to be ignored by those who submitted proposals to NSF. Several other factors influenced this decision such as Congress emphasizing the need for fundamental research to repay the public investment, benefiting society. Until recently broader impacts had been highly criticized by many for several reasons. A lot of this criticism was a result from the lack of resources that institutions dedicated and developed to support the understanding, training, and even implementation of high quality broader impacts (BI).

Much has changed since the 1997 implementation of the BI criterion. BI is now becoming widely accepted throughout institutions across the nation. There are now BI offices, BI networks, and a BI national organization. The rise in these entities were initially responses to the National Science Foundation (NSF) BI criterion. But this was just the start, BI is much larger than what most people thought: BI is required for most public and private agencies and foundations, BI helps all faculty, staff, and students be more impactful, BI provides a blueprint for how society and the University can benefit each other, and BI can be highly effective in helping Institutions meet their University or College missions.  The Institution that embodies the underpinnings of BI will be the Institution of the next century. Therefore the next step in the evolution of BI is its institutionalization. Furthermore the institutionalization of BI will allow faculty to get credit for the outreach, engagement, and broader impacts activities that they are already doing or planning to do in the future while working at the University.

According to Broader Impacts in Research organization's Broader Impacts Conceptual Framework (BICF) there are three main components required to allow the institutionalization of BI. The first and the most foundational is Engagement. The Director of Broader Impacts in Research (BIR) has partnered with the Associate Vice President for Outreach and the Vice Provost for Academic Initiatives to help further develop institutional engagement at the University of Oklahoma (OU). The Vice Provost for Academic Initiatives has created a Provost's Engagement Task Force. Within this task force there are eight committees committed to help shape what engagement looks like at OU.


Dr. Glen Krutz

Vice Provost for Academic Initiatives

Office of the Senior Vice President and Provost

Associate Director of The Carl Albert Congressional Research and Studies Center

Professor of Political Science


University of Oklahoma


Dr. Belinda Biscoe

Associate Vice President for University Outreach, Public and Community Services

Director of South Central Comprehensive Center

Director of Educational Training, Evaluation, Assessment and Measurement (E-TEAM)


University of Oklahoma


Dr. Michael Thompson

Director of Broader Impacts in Research (BIR)

Office of the Vice President for Research

Adjunct Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry


University of Oklahoma