Planetary Grand Challenges: A Call for Interdisciplinary Partnerships

  • Marie L.J. Gilbertson University of Minnesota
  • Meggan E. Craft University of Minnesota
  • Teddie M. Potter University of Minnesota
Keywords: Climate change, Planetary health, Rabies, Science of Team Science, Ecosystem services, Climate curriculum, Effective communication, Domination paradigm, Leadership, Transdisciplinary team


Universities have traditionally been places where individual scholars work on individual topics, in individual disciplines, with individual funding. Even though large research institutions include all the major disciplines, faculty and students remain in their schools or colleges, rarely crossing the campus to interact. Matters do not improve once knowledge is generated. Each discipline has its own journals, its own conferences, and its own professional organizations. The academy was designed to support unparalleled expertise in specialized knowledge. However, universities are beginning to realize that the greatest challenges we face are systems problems and can only be solved by systems thinking and systems solutions. Climate change, antibiotic resistance, water scarcity, and unsustainable population growth are just a few of the planetary health crises that require interdisciplinary partnerships to solve. Fortunately, we are beginning to see early signs of a shift toward, and even normalization of, interdisciplinary collaboration. In fact, some national grants require team members from different fields as a stipulation for funding. Interdisciplinary research permits cross-field benefits in which the synergy of two or more knowledge sets is greater than the sum of its parts. Innovation increases and previously elusive solutions become possible. The field of partnership studies closely aligns with the vision and mission of interdisciplinarity and offers a philosophical framework to guide teaching and research.

Author Biographies

Marie L.J. Gilbertson, University of Minnesota

Marie L.J. Gilbertson, DVM

Graduate Student


Marie Gilbertson DVM is a graduate student in the College of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Minnesota, and a co-chair of the student group Health Students for a Healthy Climate.

Dr. Gilbertson’s research is focused on transmission dynamics in free-ranging wildlife populations, and translation to human and other animal systems. She uses her training as a veterinarian to engage in challenging conversations in planetary health.

Meggan E. Craft, University of Minnesota

Meggan E. Craft, PhD

Associate Professor


Meggan Craft PhD is an infectious disease ecologist based in the College of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Minnesota and is also an Institute on the Environment Fellow.

The broad aim of Dr. Craft’s research program is to understand disease dynamics in animal and human populations. Her research is inherently interdisciplinary as she works at the intersection of environmental, human, and animal health.

Teddie M. Potter, University of Minnesota

Teddie M. Potter, PhD, RN, FAAN

Clinical Professor


Teddie Potter PhD, RN, FAAN is specialty coordinator of the Doctor of Nursing Practice in Health Innovation and Leadership and Director of Inclusivity and Diversity for the University of Minnesota School of Nursing.

Dr. Potter has spoken nationally and internationally about partnership-based health care and co-authored with Riane Eisler, the award winning book, Transforming Interprofessional Partnerships: A New Framework for Nursing and Partnership-Based Health Care. This book equips nurses to be full partners, ready to lead necessary change to advance the health of all nations.

How to Cite
Gilbertson, M. L., Craft, M. E., & Potter, T. M. (2019). Planetary Grand Challenges: A Call for Interdisciplinary Partnerships. Interdisciplinary Journal of Partnership Studies, 6(1), Article 1.
From the Guest Editor