Carnegie Mellon University

About Broader Impacts 

The U.S. National Science Foundation's (NSF) primary goals are to enable the U.S. to uphold a position of world leadership in all aspects of science, mathematics, and engineering; promote the discovery, integration, dissemination, and employment of new knowledge in service to society; and, achieve excellence in U.S. science, mathematics, engineering, and technology education at all levels. These goals are catalyzed through research grant opportunities targeted to broaden the impact of research on society.

Broader Impacts research must fulfill one or more of the outcomes below.

  1. Full participation of women, persons with disabilities, and underrepresented minorities* in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM)
  2. Improved STEM education and educator development at any level
  3. Increased public scientific literacy and public engagement with science and technology
  4. Improved well-being of individuals in society
  5. Development of a diverse, globally competitive STEM workforce
  6. Increased partnerships between academia, industry, and others
  7. Enhanced infrastructure for research and education
  8. Improved national security
  9. Increased economic competitiveness of the U.S

*Specifically, African-Americans, Hispanics, Native Americans, Alaska Natives, and Pacific Islanders

  1. All NSF projects should be of the highest quality and have the potential to advance, if not transform, the frontiers of knowledge.
  2. NSF projects, in the aggregate, should contribute to achieving societal goals.
  3. Meaningful assessment and evaluation of NSF-funded projects should be based on appropriate metrics, keeping in mind the likely correlation between the effect of broader impacts and the resources provided to implement projects.

For complete detail, please visit Chapter III of the NSF's Grant Proposal Guide (December 26, 2014).

All NSF proposals are evaluated through the use of the two National Science Board-approved criteria below.

  1. Intellectual Merit: The Intellectual Merit criterion encompasses the potential to advance knowledge; and
  2. Broader Impacts: The Broader Impacts criterion encompasses the potential to benefit society and contribute to the achievement of specific, desired societal outcomes.

For complete detail, please visit Chapter III of the NSF's Grant Proposal Guide (December 26, 2014).

  1. What is the potential for the proposed activity to:
              a.  advance knowledge and understanding within its own field or across different
                   fields (Intellectual Merit); and
              b.  benefit society or advance desired societal outcomes (Broader Impacts)?
  2. To what extent do the proposed activities suggest and explore creative, original, or potential transformative concepts?
  3. Is the plan for carrying out the proposed activities well-reasoned, well-organized, and based on a sound rationale?  Does the plan incorporate a mechanism to assess success?
  4. How well-qualified is the individual, team, or organization to conduct proposed activities?
  5. Are there adequate resources available to the PI (either at the home organization or through collaborations) to carry out the proposed activities?

For complete detail, please visit Chapter III of the NSF's Grant Proposal Guide (December 26, 2014).

  1. Vice Provost for Education members collaborate with or connect PIs to resources that help them develop, implement, or assess Broader Impacts activities, including (but not limited to):

    • Designing curricula for all learners
    • Developing and delivering workshops for undergraduate students on applying to and succeeding in graduate school
    • Mentoring student researchers during summer research activities
    • Creating summer academic development programs for high school students in CMU's Summer Academy for Math and Science (SAMS)
    • Developing and delivering a professional development workshop for teachers of STEM subjects
    • Hosting visitation programs for faculty and students from minority-serving institutions or minority-serving programs
    • Creating research experiences for teachers

Once you are ready to begin, please complete this Google form to find a colleague to help you design, implement, or assess your Broader Impacts plan. 

We'll be in touch soon.