Planetary Grand Challenges: A Call for Interdisciplinary Partnerships
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.
Copyright (c) 2019 Marie L.J. Gilbertson, Meggan E. Craft, Teddie M. Potter
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