The University of Wyoming’s Grand Challenges initiative recently announced the winners of the first round of funding from this major university initiative. I am delighted to report that a project I am leading was one of the five projects selected. This press release provides a brief overview of all five projects.
In short, our project is about enhancing transdisciplinary capacity at the university, because the problems of today (and the challenges of the future) cannot be solved by a single discipline. Through “IMPACT — Innovative Methods to develop Adaptive Capacity through Transdisciplinarity,” we aim to transform UW’s approach to research, and enhance public trust in research and information. We’re taking a cross-cutting, institutionally empowered, transdisciplinary approach in which science, technology, engineering, mathematics, arts, humanities and social sciences are equal partners.
Right now, we are analyzing 30+ interviews conducted of faculty on campus who do transdisciplinary work, and conducting preliminary analyses of internal academic productivity data. We anticipate this mixed-methods approach will enable us to (a) identify nodes on campus where transdisciplinary and collaborative work thrives, and (b) identify the limits of typical academic metrics for capturing evidence of transdisciplinary, collaborative research that has impacts beyond publications and grants. With that information in hand, we plan to develop a nuanced survey which asks all university employees affiliated with research and creative activity about the conditions that enable them to be most creative, innovative, and collaborative. We also anticipate conducting a series of focus groups to better capture data about impacts of public-facing, applied, and community-engaged scholarly and creative activity. Ultimately, we expect this work will (a) contribute to the growing discourse in higher education about how to effectively document, credit, and encourage transdisciplinary work, and (b) inform strategic planning, investments, and training/capacity building efforts at UW.
Collaborators are: Bethann Garramon Merkle (lead), Department of Zoology and Physiology, College of Arts and Sciences, Biodiversity Institute and director of the UW Science Communication Initiative; Maggie Bourque, Haub School of Environment and Natural Resources; Anna Chalfoun, Department of Zoology and Physiology, Wyoming Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, and Program in Ecology curriculum chair; Katie Christensen, UW Art Museum education curator; Ellen Currano, Department of Botany, College of Arts and Sciences; Mariah Ehmke, Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics, College of Agriculture and Natural Resources; Rick Fisher, Department of English, College of Arts and Sciences, and Communication Across the Curriculum Program director; Brandon Gellis, Department of Visual and Literary Arts, College of Arts and Sciences, and co-director of the Center for Design Thinking; Alyson Hagy, Department of Visual and Literary Arts, College of Arts and Sciences; Randa Jabbour, Department of Plant Sciences, College of Agriculture and Natural Resources; Kelly Kinney, Department of English chair, College of Arts and Sciences; Corrie Knapp, Haub School of Environment and Natural Resources; Kristen Landreville, Department of Communication and Journalism, College of Arts and Sciences; Jeff Lockwood, Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies, College of Arts and Sciences; Elizabeth Minton, Department of Management and Marketing, College of Business; Sylvia Parker, Science and Math Teaching Center director; Janel Seeley, Ellbogen Center for Teaching and Learning director; J.J. Shinker, Department of Geology and Geophysics, College of Arts and Sciences; Corey Tarwater, Department of Zoology and Physiology, College of Arts and Sciences, and Biodiversity Institute; Karen Vaughan, Department of Ecosystem Science and Management, College of Agriculture and Natural Resources; and Rachel Watson, Science Initiative, Queer Studies Minor Program director and Department of Chemistry, College of Arts and Sciences.