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Bridges and Barriers to Developing and Conducting Interdisciplinary Graduate-Student Team Research

Wayde Cameron Morse, University of Idaho; Tropical Agricultural Research and Higher Education Center
Max Nielsen-Pincus, University of Idaho
Jo Ellen Force, University of Idaho
J. D. Wulfhorst, University of Idaho


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Understanding complex socio-environmental problems requires specialists from multiple disciplines to integrate research efforts. Programs such as the National Science Foundationís Integrative Graduate Education and Research Traineeship facilitate integrated research efforts and change the way academic institutions train future leaders and scientists. The University of Idaho and the Tropical Agricultural Research and Higher Education Center in Costa Rica collaborate on a joint research program focusing on biodiversity conservation and sustainable production in fragmented landscapes. We first present a spectrum of integration ranging from disciplinary to transdisciplinary across seven aspects of the research process. We then describe our experiences and lessons learned conducting interdisciplinary graduate student team research. Using our program as a case study, we examine the individual, disciplinary, and programmatic bridges and barriers to conducting interdisciplinary research that emerged during our student team research projects. We conclude with a set of recommendations for exploiting the bridges and overcoming the barriers to conducting interdisciplinary research, especially as part of graduate education programs.

Key words

integration; interdisciplinary; team research; sustainability; biodiversity; graduate education; Integrative Graduate Education and Research Traineeship; University of Idaho; Tropical Agricultural Research and Higher Education Center (CATIE)

Copyright © 2007 by the author(s). Published here under license by The Resilience Alliance. This article is under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. You may share and adapt the work provided the original author and source are credited, you indicate whether any changes were made, and you include a link to the license.

Ecology and Society. ISSN: 1708-3087