Knowledge integration across disciplines is at the heart of addressing
important research challenges, such as impacts of global change, trade-offs
between water, food, and energy production, and the need for sustainable
cities.The EMBeRS Project is testing a new model
for integrating knowledge across disciplines based on cognitive science
theories of model-based reasoning. The project is also creating educational materials
to train students to overcome the barriers to
integrating knowledge across disciplines.
Studies of interdisciplinary research teams indicate that team members struggle to achieve knowledge integration across disciplines. Issues arise due to the inability of team members to understand deep knowledge at the frontier of other disciplines and to connect that knowledge with their own expertise to catalyze a collaborative path forward. The ability to work collaboratively in a research team with others who may hold very different perspectives is a critical aspect of preparing today's students to meet future workforce demands. Yet studies indicate most environmental science programs are functionally multidisciplinary rather than interdisciplinary (see definitions).
This work is partially supported by the National Science Foundation award DGE-1545404. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the investigator(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.