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Graduate students navigating social-ecological research: insights from the Long-Term Ecological Research Network

Sydne Record, Department of Biology, Bryn Mawr College
Paige F. B. Ferguson, Department of Biological Sciences, University of Alabama; Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources, University of Georgia
Elise Benveniste, Department of Sociology, Michigan State University
Rose A Graves, Department of Zoology, University of Wisconsin–Madison
Vera W Pfeiffer, Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies, University of Wisconsin–Madison
Michele Romolini, Center for Urban Resilience, Loyola Marymount University
Christie E Yorke, Interdepartmental Graduate Program in Marine Science, University of California, Santa Barbara
Ben Beardmore, Center for Limnology, University of Wisconsin–Madison; Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources


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Interdisciplinary, collaborative research capable of capturing the feedbacks between biophysical and social systems can improve the capacity for sustainable environmental decision making. Networks of researchers provide unique opportunities to foster social-ecological inquiry. Although insights into interdisciplinary research have been discussed elsewhere, they rarely address the role of networks and often come from the perspectives of more senior scientists. We have provided graduate student perspectives on interdisciplinary degree paths from within the Long-Term Ecological Research (LTER) Network. Focusing on data from a survey of graduate students in the LTER Network and four self-identified successful graduate student research experiences, we examined the importance of funding, pedagogy, research design and development, communication, networking, and culture and attitude to students pursuing social-ecological research. Through sharing insights from successful graduate student approaches to social-ecological research within the LTER Network, we hope to facilitate dialogue between students, faculty, and networks to improve training for interdisciplinary scientists.

Key words

epistemology; graduate students; Integrated Science for Society and Environment; interdisciplinary; Long-Term Ecological Research Network

Copyright © 2016 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