The University of Kentucky will be partnering with Gen.G to build a global gaming and esports program as part of a larger campus initiative to become more involved in the esports ecosystem.

The program will focus on three pillars of academic, community and professional development in collaboration with the UK esports Club. The partnership between UK and Gen.G will focus on development for student recruitment, classroom and internship opportunities; research avenues for scholars across a variety of colleges; and professional development for alumni.

“This partnership will provide further paths for students to explore these pursuits, using technology–and gaming–as a tool,” said Eric Monday, UK’s executive vice president for finance and administration. “At the University of Kentucky and at Gen.G, we view gaming, esports and technology as a lens through which prospective, recent and current UK students view their lives and opportunities for lifelong growth and development.”

Starting later this year, UK and Gen.G will serve as hosts for a periodic speaker series on campus that will be streamed globally with gaming and esports executives, athletes and content creators. Kentucky will also have an open call with faculty about a potential new academic program and a possible gaming-focused certificate program.

Kentucky also has committed to developing a university conference serving the gaming and esports ecosystems in spring 2020. And later this year it will launch an alumni gathering and new media series in New York City to connect alumni with the gaming and esports worlds.

“As rapidly as collegiate esports is already growing, the full power of games to impact students’ lives stems from international community more than from intercollegiate rivalry,” said Chris Park, chief executive officer of Gen.G. “We believe the best universities should invest in this vision across the world. The University of Kentucky, with a nationally elite range of academic offerings and an internationally recognized athletic program, is particularly well-equipped to help lead the way.”

Even as the partnership will explore the opportunities associated with esports, some of the traditional challenges associated with gaming will not be ignored. Officials with UK and Gen.G said they will work to develop a research portfolio that will address and probe issues such as repetitive injury motion and societal concerns around gaming and violence.